Trying it for a year
By Mark Reaman
Organizations that hope to close Crested Butte’s Elk Avenue for special events will now have to pay for the privilege. That includes long-standing events such as the Crested Butte Arts Festival, Vinotok and the chamber of commerce’s Fourth of July celebration.
Starting in 2019, for every block that is closed for an event, a fee of $100 will be charged. So for example, if the Crested Butte Arts Festival closes five blocks of Elk for its weekend event, a $500 fee will be imposed as part of the permitting process.
Every year the council approves the fee schedule for town and while there were some minor increases proposed for next year, the Elk Avenue closure fee proposed by town finance director Rob Zillioux was a new one that caught some on the council off guard. At the December 3 meeting, Zillioux said there are standard expenses for the town with any Elk Avenue closure that runs into thousands of dollars, especially in terms of the Public Works Department or the Marshal’s Office. He expects the new fee to raise about $2,000.
“I didn’t see that in there until tonight and I am wondering if it makes sense,” said mayor Jim Schmidt. “How will it really work? If a non-profit like the chamber of commerce wants to close Elk for the Fourth of July parade and we charge them $800, will they just ask us for the money? Is it just moving money in a circle?”
“Logistically, these closures are hard to manage,” said Zillioux. “The Emma Coburn event or Vinotok can be hard logistically. This is meant to cover a minimum of town cost.”
Zillioux said the proposal was for a $100 per block fee for the event and not per day. It would not apply to events like the Halloween Parade or a Titan soccer parade, since those events would be considered a type of rolling closure. He agreed with the council sentiment that something like the Farmers Market would be considered a “reoccurring event” and be charged the fee just once for the season.
“The intent is not to be overly onerous but to get some compensation for what the town puts in,” said councilman Kent Cowherd.
“I’m trying to think about what is fair for people,” said Schmidt. “Is it $200 for the Gunnison Car Show guys who want to park their cars on Elk Sunday morning and $500 for the weekend Arts Festival?”
Zillioux said compared to other communities, the fee is minimal. “This is well under the market rate for other places,” he told the council. “We wanted to ease into it and let people get used to it.”
“I haven’t thought it out completely but let’s try it for a year and see what happens,” said Schmidt.
The rest of the council members at the meeting agreed and the new fee structure will go into effect January 1.