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Movies at Wagner, other plans labeled premature

Janet Urquhart

Outdoor movies at Wagner Park and other ideas to enliven downtown Aspen this summer got two thumbs-up from the City Council Monday, but the other three members weren’t as keen on the plans.

The Commercial Core and Lodging Commission, which pitched various events for the downtown core, ultimately received enough encouragement to keep working on the ideas, though the council didn’t come through with the requested $40,000 in funding.

The council did approve $5,000 for the second running of Aspen Goes Bazaar, an October shopping weekend, though the CCLC had requested $15,000 to expand that event.

The CCLC was also seeking $20,000 for a series of Friday night happenings in the core and $5,000 for outdoor movies on Sunday nights at Wagner Park.

“I think both of the ideas have a lot of merit,” said Councilman Tim Semrau, urging the commission to come back with details on how the money would be spent.

But Mayor Helen Klanderud suggested the commission was premature in proposing the events before the city’s new downtown catalyst, Lisa Riley Baker, has had a chance to poll downtown merchants on what they want. “I think we ought to let Lisa do her job,” she said. “I don’t know where the business community stands on this.” The city knows how the marketers of Aspen Highlands Village feel, though. Highlands merchants host Freestyle Fridays on Friday evenings and outdoor movies on Tuesdays.

“I think we’re all in this tourist game together. I think we should come up with new ideas, not duplicate what is already being done,” said Jeanette Darnauer, whose Darnauer Group plans and markets events at Highlands.

“Highlands is part of the city. We do need to take into account what they’re doing,” Klanderud agreed.

Councilwoman Rachel Richards pondered how bothersome the sound of movies would be in the core, and how much money it would cost the parks department to clean up Wagner the following morning.

Aspen summers are already busy, Richards added, voicing reluctance to blow the city’s money on events that will compete with what already exists.

“We’re not cutting up the tourist time pie here,” Semrau countered. “We’re multiplying it.”

The more to do, the better, Councilman Terry Paulson agreed. “I hate turning this down because these are excellent ideas,” he said.

In the end, the council indicated it would entertain further discussion of the CCLC’s proposals.

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com


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