Theatre Aspen to leave tent frame up as a winter ‘test’ |

Theatre Aspen to leave tent frame up as a winter ‘test’

Andre SalvailThe Aspen Times Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – The Aspen City Council passed a resolution Monday to allow Theatre Aspen to leave the steel frame of its tent at Rio Grande Park up through May 15 as a test to gauge community reaction. The vote was 3-2, with some council members asking Theatre Aspen officials whether other options for the tent frame were adequately explored. Also, a resident in the audience suggested a delay on the vote until neighbors and those with a view of the tent frame from their houses could be notified and provided an opportunity to weigh in on the matter. In the end, no council member motioned to postpone the decision, and the split vote on the temporary-use permit was recorded. A memorandum from city long-range planner Jessica Garrow to the council states that Theatre Aspen wants to leave the tent frame, stage and seating up through this winter and much of spring. Meanwhile, within that time frame, the Planning and Zoning Commission and council are expected to consider a separate matter: a full review of the organization’s application that would allow a permanent structure for concessions at the park and to allow the tent frame, stage and seating to remain on the site year round on a permanent basis. Emily Zeck, managing director of Theatre Aspen, said allowing the tent frame to remain in place – with the stage and seating covered by a tarp in the same area – would give city officials and residents an opportunity to decide how they feel about the impact on the area’s aesthetics. She said it costs $50,000 annually to truck in and set up the frame in mid-May and to dismantle and remove it from the site every mid-September. The financial impact on Theatre Aspen was not the reason behind the request, she said. Councilmen Torre and Steve Skadron shared similar concerns about the application for the temporary permit, saying they wondered whether it represented a move toward permanency for the tent frame before P&Z and council had a chance to weigh in on the matter fully. But Mayor Mick Ireland and councilmen Derek Johnson and Adam Frisch went along with the request, agreeing that it would be temporary and a way to evaluate whether its a good idea in the long term.Theatre Aspen purchased a new tent and frame before its 2011 summer season and replaced the outworn structure that had been used for years. In January, the council granted approval for the organization to replace the tent and change its point of entry under the notion that the structure would be completely removed between mid-September and

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