Public hearing on September’s major special event set for August 25

“It all feels awkward to a lot of us…”
The Crested Butte Town Council admitted Tuesday there was a major special event in the planning stages for the town to be held in September, but details won’t be released until an August 25 public hearing. Part of the reason for that delay, according to the council, is that the details are still in flux and no formal application has been submitted to the town.

Mayor Aaron Huckstep told a small crowd at the council meeting Tuesday night that the towns of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte had been approached by a national company last April about shooting a major ad campaign in the area in September. Part of that production would entail using town properties for a weekend. “There has been a lot of buzz in the community about this special event,” said Huckstep. “When [the company] came to us in April, the council was willing to entertain the concept of what they proposed. It is still conceptual. The impacts would be similar to the Arts Festival that was here last weekend in terms of road closures, Elk Avenue impacts and hosting live entertainment. “Rumors to the contrary, they won’t be closing off Elk Avenue to the residents or the visitors,” Huckstep continued. “We wouldn’t allow that to happen. Now, the event could keep minors out of the designated area but they are in the process of developing mitigation measures to the event as a whole. Overall, it should be a unique, fun event.” Huckstep said he couldn’t talk about details because the intricate details were not yet set in stone. The event organizers and town staff are busy working through potential and acceptable details and mitigation. Councilperson David Owen wanted it made clear that despite rumors, the council has considered the event only in concept. “It has been before the staff but not us,” he said. “I had hoped we could have a public hearing tonight but it sounds like it will now be August 25. “The town hasn’t approved the event in secret,” Owen emphasized. “That’s just not true. There has been no approval.” “If they submit an application, there will have to be a public hearing before the Town Council before a decision is made,” confirmed town attorney John Belkin. “To dispel the recent rumors, the notion that this has been approved is false,” said Huckstep. continued from page 1 Councilperson Jim Schmidt asked why visitors and residents under 21 years old would be banned from the event. “Minors are allowed in restaurants and bars,” he said. “If a family wants to go eat at the Bacchanale and they have to go through the event area, will they not let the 12 year old through?” he asked. “Will a 19-year-old not be able to go to his post office box?” Belkin said the elimination of minors from the event area came at the request of the applicant. “They don’t feel it would be appropriate for minors,” he said. “They don’t want minors comingling with what they will be doing. They have indicated they would like to add additional potential activities for kids.” “That is part of the discussion we will have later tonight in executive session,” promised Huckstep. “It’s one of many things still on the radar screen. There is no resolution yet, like with a lot of issues. And again, there is no approval.” The council’s official action on Tuesday was to discuss the concept of establishing an Entertainment District for town that would allow for the expanded consumption of alcohol. The idea is to designate a portion of town, say Elk Avenue between Fourth and First Streets, and allow alcohol consumers to walk out of a bar onto the street with a drink. They couldn’t go into another bar with the same drink but they could walk Elk Avenue legally with an alcoholic drink in their hand. This would be similar to a condo association, with Elk Avenue being the common space. Former chamber of commerce director Dan Marshall was hired by the town to be a liaison between the town and the national company putting on the event. “For the last few weeks I’ve been walking around town to explore participation,” he said. “I have reached out to every bar and restaurant on Elk Avenue and some just off of Elk. Everyone I have talked to supports the idea of the special Entertainment District. It seems like everyone wants to see the September event use this as a test for the district.” Marshall said he would be speaking with the other Elk Avenue business owners to explain the potential event to them as well. Joel Lewis of the Talk of the Town told the council he was looking forward to the district. “It could be a great thing for the town,” he said. “The only negative I see is that they don’t want to include minors under 21. I’m against that. I don’t want to take them away from the experience.” Kyleena Falzone-Graceffa of the Secret Stash, Bonez, and the Red Room said she was in favor of holding the event in September “and I think it will be a cool venue. I’ve been working with these guys and they are very professional. It will result in a lot of national exposure.” Resident Jeff Scott liked the idea of the Entertainment District “but my biggest concern is security and how we can contain special events as they grow. We need to make sure we have adequate support to really manage these special events.” Businessman Noel Adams of Zachariah Zypps was concerned that any time parking was prohibited on Elk Avenue, “my sales drop 50 to 70 percent, and that translates to town sales tax from my store. That includes the Fourth of July or Arts Fest or anytime people can’t park close to the stores. They want to be close to their cars.” Vinotok organizer Molly Murfee said she would withhold most of her comments until the August 25 public hearing. “But it sure feels awkward to a lot of us that haven’t been spoken to about this event,” she said. “Getting the permit for Vinotok is an arduous process. If the town allows an Entertainment District, maybe Vinotok can use it for the feast. I hope this isn’t something just for a really big company with a really big name. Don’t forget the homegrown events.” “I think it is awkward for us up here as well,” said Huckstep. “We are trying to do our best. And the process has been arduous for the September applicant as well. We’ve pressed hard and it’s not been simple.” “You say it is awkward but the timing seems rushed,” added longtime citizen Denis Hall. “The application review and passage will be August 25. The event is ten days later. That’s just ten days to implement details you haven’t been enumerating. That sure seems fast. I also don’t like the idea of an outside security force coming in to check IDs. I see red flags. It bugs me.” “It seems fast to me too,” said Owen. “But the staff will process what will happen and will report to us before the public hearing.” “It is not our expectation that on the 25th we get a plan that has a lot of holes in it,” added Huckstep. “We expect it to be pretty tight by then and have a staff recommendation.” “We are processing the information now,” said town manager Todd Crossett. “If we don’t think it will fly, we won’t recommend that the council approve it.” “As far as the Entertainment District, the business owners seem pretty enthusiastic with the concept of it,” said Councilperson Glenn Michel. “On the other hand, there are some residents with concerns, and rightfully so. There will be impacts on them. How we balance that dilemma will be the struggle I have with it.” The council will learn the specific details of the event a few days before the August 25 meeting. The public will have an opportunity to comment on the application and the event in general, along with the idea of establishing an Entertainment District in Crested Butte, at that Monday evening meeting.

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