Snowmass takes up controversial BYOB

Joel StoningtonAspen, CO Colorado

SNOWMASS VILLAGE The decision to make the town the sole provider of alcohol at the popular Snowmass Free Concert Series has caused a public outcry and a split on Town Council.Today’s council meeting will provide a forum for a discussion on the issue. On Sunday, Snowmass mayor Douglas “Merc” Mercatoris said the BYOB agenda item is just an update for the public. Other council members, however, are angry about the decision.”This is the tail wagging the dog, and it really angers me when that happens,” said Councilman Arnie Mordkin. “Staff doesn’t make decisions on policy, nor does Merc make decisions on policy. It needs to be discussed by Town Council.”At issue is a state law banning open alcohol containers in uncontrolled, public places. From Mordkin’s point of view, the law applies to only individuals and not to an entity like a municipality. Councilman John Wilkinson, however, said the town could have liability issues regarding BYOB. “The most important thing is to explain state law,” Mercatoris said. “This is a question of compliance more than anything else. I see this as an educational thing.”Still, council members who agree with Mercatoris also mention the image of Snowmass and the safety of the concert series. A brutal assault that left a man with multiple facial fractures last year prompted much discussion of safety. “This is a family resort; this is supposed to be a family event,” Wilkinson said. “It’s not an outdoor Belly Up.”Mordkin, an attorney, sees no problem with simply looking the other way and said he doesn’t believe the town should get involved.”There is no law that I can find that places upon any municipality the fine for someone who drinks in public,” Mordkin said. “The town doesn’t violate a law if it fails to stop everyone who is speeding.”Apart from legal questions, the public has been less than receptive to the change in policy. A recent Aspen Times web poll asked: “Do you agree with the decision to ban BYOB at the free Thursday concerts at Snowmass?” Only 14.58 percent of the 240 votes by 6 p.m. Sunday agreed. “We didn’t, in my opinion, analyze the situation,” Mordkin said. “The town is doing nothing wrong. I think we should just shut up and go home. You want to bring booze on the hill? Bring booze on the hill.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address


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