Fireworks spark debate |

Fireworks spark debate

John Colson

The privately funded display of fireworks planned for Aspen tonight may be the last such display for a while.

The Aspen City Council is contemplating a “moratorium” on privately funded fireworks displays, pending an investigation into whether they are an imposition on some residents who do not appreciate the noise.

The matter came up at the council’s Monday brown-bag lunch meeting, when council members were asked whether they had any opinions or ideas about the display tonight.

Tonight’s pyrotechnics are being paid for by the Canadian International Banking Corp., according to organizers, and will be set off at about 9 p.m.

But city officials indicated there has been some unhappiness about the frequency of fireworks displays in town.

“At what point do your say, `No,’ to private fireworks?” asked City Manager Amy Margerum.

“Personally, I get a little burned out on fireworks,” declared Councilman Terry Paulson, rattling off a list of recent fireworks displays – the annual Fourth of July and Winterskl displays, as well as those for last year’s World Cup races, and, for the second year in a row, the Canadian bankers’ convention.

“You get tired of looking at ’em,” Paulson concluded.

He said he feels private displays are an imposition on local residents, and he blamed Aspen’s wealthy for the problem.

“It’s like they own the town, and their daughter has a birthday, so they have some fireworks,” he said. He suggested any private celebrants who want a private fireworks display permit be required to pay an amount of money equal to the cost of the display to some local agency – “maybe Health and Human Services,” Paulson said.

Councilman Jim Markalunas said the money should go to a local animal welfare organization, because the fireworks hurt dogs’ sensitive ears.

At the suggestion of Mayor Rachel Richards, the council will consider imposing a moratorium on private fireworks displays after tonight, to give the city time to study the matter.

This is the second time this year that the use of explosives to mark a celebration has become a matter of public debate.

In late June, it was revealed that the historic July 4 firing of a cannon on Smuggler Mountain would not happen this year, because of past complaints. An overwhelming outpouring of support for the cannon fire, however, convinced unidentified renegade elements to blow off some explosives of their own.

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