Eco Fest director asks Aspen council to waive fees
ASPEN – The director of Aspen Eco Fest on Tuesday asked the City Council to waive as much as $5,000 in fees associated with the event, which is planned for June 8 through 10 along South Mill Street and East Hyman Avenue near the Wheeler Opera House.The event will mark its third year this summer. It drew an estimated 6,000 people last year and included 90 vendors who set up booths on both streets.Eco Fest director Shae Singer, co-owner of Aspen Emporium & Flying Circus on Main Street, asked council members to waive the fees for blocking the streets from automobile traffic, which costs $3,600 for the Saturday and Sunday portion of the three-day event. Singer also wants the city to waive a one-day fee for renting the opera house, which she said would save another $1,000. In addition, she asked the city to bear the cost of hanging a large promotional banner across Main Street. She said the $5,000 in savings would allow her to pay for more advertising with the goal of luring more people to Aspen from other Western Slope communities. She asked the council to commit to the request not only this year but in future years.Singer said her event differs from Earth Day and other planned gatherings, such as the American Renewable Energy Day set for mid-August. Film screenings and panel discussions at the opera house are scheduled this year, as is a presentation by Rod Stryker, said to be a foremost authority on yoga and meditation.”There’s nothing like this on the Western Slope,” Singer said. “We’re modeling ourselves on all the things we didn’t like about (environment-related events) on the Front Range. “We didn’t want this to be a suit-and-tie event. We don’t want people to have to pay $1,000. We don’t want this to be tie-dye, hippie-dippy.”While most council members said they liked the event, they also lightly admonished Singer for not bringing enough information to the table. Mayor Mick Ireland told Singer that she should have applied for assistance through the city’s Mining for Ideas program, which grants money for fledgling events designed to bring visitors to Aspen during slow times. The deadline for grant requests for 2012 events was May 1. Singer acknowledged that she didn’t think of applying for the grant until November, when it was too late.”We have to stop this ad-hoc stuff. It’s not fiscally responsible,” Ireland said, referring to Eco Fest and other organizations seeking city assistance for their events without going through the process of applying directly to programs.”We can’t do this,” he said. “If we do this one, then we’ve got to listen to (everybody else).” He also said he needed to see the Eco Fest balance sheet from the 2011 event and a detailed budget for this year’s offering.Councilman Steve Skadron said he’s not comfortable with the council acting as a grant-review board. The city usually handles such requests through staff committees. Councilman Adam Frisch said he also would like to see an itemized list of the event’s revenues and expenses before committing in-kind services worth $5,000.Councilman Torre suggested that Singer could make extra money to cover the city’s fees by charging for events planned at the opera house. Singer replied that she tries to keep most Eco Fest offerings free or as inexpensive as possible.”Last year, I thought your event was great,” Torre said. “But I’ve been very cautious about granting requests in this (ad-hoc) process. My question I’ve given to everybody who’s asked for money is, I have a real difficulty because I don’t know the scope of your budget.”I don’t even know if ($5,000) is an appropriate amount based on what your business plan is. I want to offer your event help. I don’t know that writing a check or committing to $5,000 is the thing that would really help your event most.”Council members directed Singer to bring more information to assistant city manager Barry Crook so that her request could be considered at some later firstname.lastname@example.org
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Under bluebird skies with 160 acres under their boots, hundreds of skiers and snowboarders took to Aspen Mountain for opening day Wednesday.