Repairing grass will be city’s contribution
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Jazz Aspen Snowmass is welcome to bring its June Festival back to Rio Grande Park next year, but the city’s contribution to the event will be the cost of repairing the grass.
Festival organizers had asked not only to use the park again next year, but for a $75,000 contribution toward the cost of producing the four-day festival. Only Councilman Terry Paulson was willing to include the expenditure in the city’s 2004 budget.
“I would like to give you a chance to do this one more year,” he said during a budget discussion on Monday.
Paulson also expressed hope that festival organizers and the Parks Department would come up with a plan to minimize the festival’s impact on the turf.
The 2003 June Festival resulted in about $20,000 worth of repairs to the park, which was fenced off and unavailable for use for much of the summer. Most of the cost was labor.
“I want to see the event return, I really do, but I can’t close the park to Aspenites for the rest of the summer,” said Councilman Torre.
“This decision will mean that park is off-line for most of the summer,” added Councilwoman Rachel Richards.
Initially, Richards said she couldn’t support use of the park for the event, given the impacts, but eventually she relented, opposing only the $75,000 contribution.
“My position is, I want to see this event here,” said Mayor Helen Klanderud.
She said she’d be willing to subsidize jazz concerts on the mall, held in conjunction with the festival, but opposed the contribution to the festival itself, since the city has to swallow the repair bill for the park.
The long-term solution, council members agreed, is probably installing artificial turf at one of the city’s parks.
Jazz Aspen installed a 3,000-seat tent at Rio Grande Park for this year’s June Festival, which had long been held in Snowmass Village.
In all, the park couldn’t be watered for about three weeks to accommodate the set up and dismantling of the venue. The lack of watering and heavy trucks on the grass took their toll, according to the Parks Department.
The festival attracted about 9,300 people this year. Jazz Aspen’s much larger Labor Day Festival is held in Snowmass.
[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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