Popsicle Peddler melts city resistance
June 25, 2002
A local couple will be able to peddle popsicles around the streets of Aspen after all.
The Aspen City Council warmed up to the idea Monday and directed city staffers to draw up a vending agreement for Tom and Therese Alpern of Aspen.
“I do consider this somewhat of an experiment,” cautioned Mayor Helen Klanderud.
The details on where, exactly, The Popsicle Peddler will be allowed to roam with a pedal-powered mobile cooler will be spelled out in the vending deal, according to City Manager Steve Barwick.
Tom Alpern offered to stick to events and city parks and steer clear of the pedestrian malls. The skateboard park and local softball games are obvious spots to sell the frozen treats, he said.
While council members voted unanimously to endorse a vending agreement for the operation, they made it clear the city is not ready to open the door to a slew of street vendors who compete with local merchants at a fraction of the cost of opening a shop in downtown Aspen.
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The broader issue of street vendors requires a lot more debate, Klanderud said.
“From my perspective, we’re talking bigger issues,” said Councilman Tom McCabe. “Tom’s not the problem. A popsicle wagon is not the problem – it’s the bigger picture that comes after.”
But council members agreed the Alperns may have been misled when the city issued The Popsicle Peddler a business license but failed to inform them they would need a vending agreement to operate on public rights of way.
Though a majority of council members last week opposed the issuance of a vending agreement, voicing concern that it would pave the way for other, similar requests, they had a change of heart Monday after talking with the Alperns.
The couple invested time and money in the idea, including some $2,000 for the tricycle outfitted with a cooler, according to Tom Alpern.
“Maybe we can restrict ourselves to a narrow decision in this particular case,” Klanderud suggested.
The city’s Commercial Core and Lodging Commission was handed the task of delving into the broader ramifications of street vending and the kind of regulation it might require.
“We get requests like this frequently,” said commission member Jon Busch.
The CCLC is expected to discuss the issue when it meets July 3.
[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.]