Council eases noise rules for JAS festival |

Council eases noise rules for JAS festival

Allyn Harvey
Aspen Times Staff Writer

With only the reluctant support of various arts groups, Jazz Aspen Snowmass received permission last night from the Aspen City Council to exceed the city noise limits during its upcoming June Festival.

The City Council gave its blessings for two separate exceptions to the noise ordinance, one involving time and the other involving decibels. As a result, artists like Joe Cocker will be able to jam in Rio Grande Park as late as 10:15 p.m.

“I just want to say let there be noise – 10:15 isn’t that late,” said West End resident Donna Fisher.

Aside from Jim Horowitz and other employees of Jazz Aspen Snowmass, Fisher seemed to be the only one in the room to show any enthusiasm about the upcoming festival, which can’t take place at its usual Snowmass Village venue due to ongoing golf course construction.

Don Roth, executive director of the Aspen Music Festival and School, said his organization supported the application because Jazz Aspen Snowmass had agreed not to have anyone on stage in either Rio Grande Park or in the Cooper Avenue Mall – the location of a smaller performance area – at the same time artists are on stage at the Music Tent.

Roth also commended Jazz Aspen Snowmass for agreeing to sit down with the various affected parties after the event is over to discuss the pros and cons of holding the June Festival in Aspen.

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But that didn’t stop the Given Institute’s Janet Ferrara or Aspen Theater in the Park’s Alan Osburn from saying they thought it would be best if this were the only year that Jazz Aspen Snowmass be allowed to stage its June Festival in Rio Grande Park.

Ferrara said her organization had to relocate some author readings from the Given Institute building to Harris Hall in order to accommodate the June Festival.

“Jazz Aspen Snowmass has worked well with us,” said Osburn, “but the fact of the matter is we basically have to shut down during the music.”

Osburn went on to ask the council to enact a ban on amplified music in Rio Grande Park for the last two weeks of June so Theatre in the Park could have a proper season opening.

Jazz Aspen Snowmass representatives Horowitz, the president and executive director, and Jim Lang, the festival director, explained that all of the music in Rio Grande Park will be in a closed tent that seats up to 3,000 people. Two sets of speakers, one on the stage and one halfway toward the back, will help keep the volume down.

They also said the only real threat to the city’s noise rules, which limit musicians and revelers to 80 decibels after 9 p.m., is Joe Cocker, who is set to take the stage on Sunday, June 22. The four-day festival begins on June 19.

The council agreed that Cocker and other evening acts could exceed the noise cap, up to 100 decibels, until 10:15 p.m.

Councilman and mayoral candidate Terry Paulson expressed concern that the city was making an exception to a noise ordinance that it had just recently loosened. He suggested that Jazz Aspen Snowmass place even more speakers around the tent so the volume could be kept at an even lower level.

Paulson nevertheless supported the measure, along with all four of his colleagues.

Several council members emphasized that the noise permit was only good for this year, but they didn’t specifically say considerations for the festival next year would be out of the question.