Jazz Aspen wants Labor Day camping option at Buttermilk
Organizers of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day concerts want to offer camping at Buttermilk this year, and Pitkin County commissioners were open to the idea Tuesday.
However, county board members said they will need much more information about parking, noise, lighting, transportation and other impacts before they sign off on the idea.
“I think this sounds fun,” Commissioner Rachel Richards said. “I think it sounds like a good idea.”
Commissioners Patti Clapper and Steve Child said they liked the idea, as well, though board Chairman George Newman balked at allowing between 500 and 1,000 people to camp at the base of Buttermilk.
“I’m a little concerned about the potential numbers,” Newman said. “It’s beginning to look like a mini-Woodstock. I can imagine a brown cloud and an offensive odor coming from the area.”
Holly Upper, Jazz Aspen’s vice president of development, said the idea is to offer a less expensive option for people who want to attend the concerts but can’t afford a hotel room in the Aspen area for three days. The concerts haven’t sold out on a regular basis and Jazz Aspen officials believe the lack of a discount option is the reason, she said.
“We think this will help sell out the experience,” Upper said.
The town of Snowmass Village has been reluctant to offer the camping option in previous years, though lodging options there have done well during recent Labor Day concerts, so officials have now given the go-ahead to allow it, she said. The only spot in Snowmass Village that could reasonably accommodate camping is the Two Creeks area, though the homeowner’s association forbids such activity, Upper said.
At Buttermilk, Jazz Aspen wants to use areas behind the Inn at Aspen owned by that hotel and Aspen Skiing Co. for the campsites, Upper said. Both entities have verbally agreed to the idea provided Jazz Aspen appropriately handles clean-up, security and other issues, she said.
The two tent-camping areas would feature a maximum of 250 campsites that would allow a maximum of two tents and six people per site, Upper said. No campfires or dogs would be allowed and organizers would provide 24-hour security, she said.
Jazz Aspen also wants to allow RV camping in one of the parking lots at Buttermilk, though no RV services like power or water would be provided, Upper said. Tent-campers also would use another of the parking lots to park their vehicles, she said. Jazz Aspen would offer a shuttle between Buttermilk and the concert venue in Snowmass Village, Upper said.
Organizers would need an extension of the noise ordinance, as well, because the concerts in Snowmass don’t end until around 9:30, so noise would likely impact the area after the 10 p.m. cut-off, she said.
All campers would have to have a concert ticket and will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of the rules and regulation before purchasing a campsite, Upper said. Fees for the campsites were not disclosed Tuesday.
Clapper suggested checking with the West Buttermilk Homeowner’s Association, the Aspen Ambulance District and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office for input on the proposal. Upper said she hadn’t yet consulted the Sheriff’s Office because she wanted to know first if commissioners were open to the camping idea.
“Enforcement is going to be your biggest hurdle,” Clapper said.
Clapper suggested keeping campers to a smaller number this year and seeing how the situation plays out.
Richards agreed that was a good idea, but strongly suggested axing RV camping from the proposal.
“RVs make a lot of noise,” Richards said. “I camped at Twin Lakes and I listened to three generators all night long — let alone the fumes. It’s just too much.”
Richards also pointed out that many campers likely won’t be returning to Buttermilk until 2 a.m., when bars close in Aspen, which brings up greater noise concerns, she said. In addition, she wanted to make sure campers could be evicted if problems arise.
More generally, Richards wondered whether the VIP space at Jazz Aspen had gotten too large at the expense of the general admission side.
“A lot of people tell me it’s become too crowded to attend anymore,” she said. “It’s gotten tight in the general areas.”
Child was particularly concerned about parking issues and possibly taking spaces from the transit lot at Buttermilk.
Commissioners will again address the proposal once more information about it becomes available.
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With the likelihood that some level of COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings will still be in place come Mountain Fair weekend, July 23-25, organizers are taking some aspects of the fair to the streets and elsewhere around town.