Fireworks a go on golf course
ASPEN Fourth of July fireworks will launch from the Aspen Golf Course, but don’t expect to get to a viewing area easily if you’re not walking or riding a bicycle.That’s because the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority is short on drivers and buses. Nonetheless, the Aspen City Council approved the eleventh-hour plan Tuesday. Department heads within City Hall and transportation officials said the plan is doable but not without a serious effort on the part of staff and the public. It also will nearly double the cost of the event, adding $24,000 to the existing $25,000 price tag. Representatives from the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, which puts on the event, came to the City Council on Monday with a request to move the fireworks show to the golf course because conditions are too dry to have it on Aspen Mountain. The fireworks were canceled last year because of dry conditions.
ACRA representatives met with city staff, police, and sheriff’s and fire officials Tuesday morning to hash out the details.”There was a lot of discussion and rooting out what we can and can’t do and we believe this is something we can pull off,” said Nancy Lesley, director of special events and marketing at City Hall. “We are encouraging this to be an eco-friendly event.”RFTA will not be able to shuttle tens of thousands of people in and out of town, so people are encouraged to ride or walk to the viewing areas, which officials suggest are not near the golf course.”We want to keep it simple and spread the people out,” said Jeff Woods, director of the city’s parks and recreation department. Instead, the better places to watch the show are from the Marolt Open Space, the high school campus, the Aspen Recreation Center, Iselin Park or Highlands because they are higher in elevation.Officials were receptive to Aspen resident Andrew Kole’s suggestion that organizers dedicate one area such as the school campus as a family-friendly area with available parking.The golf course will be open for people to watch the show, which will be staged from the east end near the parks and recreation department buildings by the roundabout. The driving range is possibly the best place at the golf course for spectators. People are encouraged not to sit on the greens.There will be no parking at the course, on Highway 82 or Cemetery Lane. Police will be in full force, along with a tow truck, to monitor illegal parking. There will be hay bales along the curbs to prevent parking in certain areas.Tim Cottrell, who has been in charge of pyrotechnics for the past 33 years in Aspen, said the golf course is a safer place to launch fireworks because it’s in a dirt field and fully irrigated.”We have so minimal chance of damaging the golf course, this is a great launch site,” he said, adding that the show will probably not be as spectacular as those in years past. “It’s not Aspen Mountain. The show has to be, by nature, smaller.”Bus service hasn’t been hashed out yet, but it will be limited.”[RFTA is] trying to get a handle on where they are going to apply their limited resources,” said John Krueger, who heads City Hall’s transportation department.ACRA President Debbie Braun said it’s a good business decision to keep the fireworks in town:”I think there is an expectation by our visitors at this time of the year to see fireworks.”
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Don’t freak out if you see helicopters hovering over the Roaring Fork Valley backcountry or fixed-wing aircraft making repeated trips. It is part an annual wildlife study by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.