Concerts a go at Wagner Park
Two nights of concerts at Wagner Park won a unanimous thumbs-up Monday from the Aspen City Council despite concerns about what thousands of feet compacting snow on the park could do to the turf.Announcement of the bands that will perform Jan. 28 and 29 – during the ESPN Winter X Games at Buttermilk – is close, said John Rigney, managing director of event marketing for the Aspen Skiing Co. The acts should be revealed in the next few days, as soon as the contracts are inked, he said.They’ll have “broad-based” appeal, he hinted. The police department has been briefed on the bands and is confident the crowds won’t overtax the force, Police Chief Loren Ryerson said.Technically, the council simply OK’d a variance from the city’s noise ordinance to allow the rock concerts from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m., but the action was a tacit approval for use of the park, as well.The debut X Games concert, featuring The Offspring, took place on city streets last year. Big Head Todd & The Monsters used the streets for a Thanksgiving weekend concert last November, but the Skico and ESPN looked to the park to handle the capacity of this month’s shows and to keep the event “fresh,” Rigney said.The compacting of wet, heavy snow like Aspen experienced in Monday’s rain, however, could result in dead grass and the need to re-sod the park, warned Tom Rubel, parks operations superintendent for the city. That could cost roughly $60,000, he said.”I really don’t know. There’s a possibility that we could have to re-sod Wagner Park in the spring,” Rubel said. “I can’t say there’ll be grass there by spring.”Council members were willing to take the risk.”I’m leaning toward supporting this partly because I want to find out what will happen or could happen,” Councilwoman Rachel Richards said. “I think it’s worth finding out.””There may be some risk here, but I think it’s time we took a little risk,” agreed Councilman Tim Semrau.Council members raised no objections to a VIP tent, or sponsor tent, in the park during the concerts. It will be placed off to the side and well back from the stage, said concert producer David Laughren of Avalanche Productions. It’s sponsorship dollars that allow the event to take place, he noted.”It’s free to the people who show up, but it’s not free to put on,” Laughren said.The Skico intends to run a snowcat to groom the park before the concerts and is willing to set up its snow-making equipment if the parks department wants more coverage there, but the snow guns would require further council action in the form of another noise variance. The council isn’t taking that issue up unless it comes to that.Nonetheless, Councilman Torre predicted snow-making would be problematic, given the noise of the guns, for neighboring properties.”It’s not about saying ‘sorry’ to the Limelite [Lodge]. Their guests are going to move out,” he said.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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