Wet blanket returns to party-animal ways | AspenTimes.com

Wet blanket returns to party-animal ways

Allyn Harvey

Perhaps the most ironic thing about the recent battle over the Aspen Skiing Co.’s party plan for the base of Ajax was Jack Crawford, the face of the opposition.

Crawford’s not just any grumpy old condo owner. He’s long been known as one of the resort’s top partiers, a reputation gained from decades as the host of the Beach Party and the Wine Party, both held every year at Blondie’s Cabin on Aspen Mountain.

“I didn’t understand his opposition – I mean Jack and his friends love to party,” said one longtime local who asked not to be named.

Crawford was opposing the Skico’s request for 13 afternoons of live music next to the gondola as a way to welcome snowboarders to the mountain.

But he said opposing it put him in an uncomfortable position. And now that a compromise has been reached – which was approved Friday by the Aspen city manager – he’s glad to get back to more familiar territory.

“I’ll be happy to go back to being a party animal from being a party-pooper,” Crawford said.

Crawford’s reputation as a party animal has been building since the early 1970s, when he bought a condominium at the Tipple Inn and made Aspen his home. In addition to the Beach Party and the Wine Party, Crawford and his buddies (including his girlfriend and his brother) throw a couple of other bashes each year, renting out space in the St. Regis or the T Lazy 7 to accommodate all their fellow revelers.

But the Tipple Inn is located right at the base of Little Nell, behind the Tippler, an aprs-ski and dance club that’s long been a draw for Aspen’s young partiers. Crawford became the spokesman for “the opposition,” made up of condo owners near the gondola, after learning that the speakers and amplifiers were originally supposed to face west and south. The music would have boomed straight at the Tipple Inn and North of Nell, a large condominium-filled building at the base of the mountain.

The company wanted to crank up the volume every afternoon for three hours, from 3 to 6 p.m., to create an aprs-ski atmosphere and promote the introduction of snowboarding. The Skico and local lodge owners have been promoting the party like mad, lowering lift prices and hoping to draw several hundred – maybe even a few thousand – college students, and perhaps save an otherwise moribund season.

“The only thing I was against was a full 13 days of nonstop hip-hop music,” Crawford said.

The compromise allows the company to crank up the volume for six days – March 31, April 1 and April 12-16. The Skico has indicated it will have live music for part or all of the three-hour party on each of those days. On seven other days, the noise level will be kept at or below 100 decibels, according to the agreement. Crawford said the company ran a test of that level, and it was acceptable to him and other residents of the area.

The company also agreed to reposition the stage and the speakers to lower the impacts on the immediate neighbors. “Our intention wasn’t to have a party that blows everybody away,” said Steve Sewell, the manager of Aspen Mountain. “This is a good compromise.”

Added Crawford: “I’m for revitalizing and promoting Aspen. I think it’s the best ski resort in the world.”

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