City limits banners for Food & Wine
Aspen will allow banners for this year’s Food & Wine Magazine Classic on light poles in the commercial core, but not on Main Street, the City Council agreed Monday.The council voted 3-2 to stand firm on its policy regulating banners on Main Street, despite hints from a resort official that the city should do all it can to keep Food & Wine Magazine happy with Aspen.The banners help create a vibrant atmosphere for the event, said Hana Pevny, Aspen Chamber Resort Association president. She appeared with Devin Padgett, producer of special events for the magazine, to request use of the Main Street poles for the banners, which hang vertically on individual poles.The city allows banners on Main Street to mark significant anniversaries of local nonprofit organizations, but has made exceptions – World Cup ski races and this year’s Winter X Games, for example. Last June, Food & Wine banners were displayed on Main Street in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the event.City Attorney John Worcester urged the council to stick with its policy, since it can’t reject banners based on content. If the city keeps making exceptions to the rule, it would have a hard time turning down banners it might not like, he said, offering the oft-quoted, hypothetical example of a request for banners for a Ku Klux Klan convention.”I just want to warn you, every time you make an exception to the rule, it becomes tougher and tougher to enforce it,” he said.”I am concerned about opening the door – not to your request, but in general,” Mayor Helen Klanderud told Pevny and Padgett. “As much as I support this event and never want to see it leave … this is how erosion begins.””A big part of the town’s charm is a lack of commercialization,” added Councilman Tim Semrau.The city made an exception to its banner policy for ESPN’s X Games in part with the hope of luring them back, Pevny countered, suggesting the same rationale should apply to the Food & Wine Classic, a hugely popular kickoff to Aspen’s summer season and an economic boost for the resort.There’s no guarantee of the event’s return year after year, she said.The classic’s future in Aspen wouldn’t hinge on the banner issue, though, Padgett clarified.”This is such a great event. Whatever you guys want to do, I would support,” said Councilman Tony Hershey, who sided with Councilman Terry Paulson in supporting the request.[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com]
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