Report suggests paid admission at Mountain Fair and other events
By John Colson
Sopris Sun Correspondent
Carbondale officials on Tuesday adopted a set of proposals from a Special Event Task Force appointed by the board of trustees in response to ongoing complaints about noise and other disruptions emanating from events staged at Sopris Park.
The task force, created last September, was made up of neighbors of the park (Jeri Alberts and Frank Nadell), town trustees Allyn Harvey and Pam Zentmyer, Amy Kimberly of the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities, and other citizens, business representatives and town staff members.
A list of 15 specific events was drawn up, including seven that take place in Sopris Park, with the annual Mountain Fair weekend as the report’s main target.
Over the course of three meetings, the task force came up with a list of 14 recommendations dealing with everything from the noise levels to the hours of operation of the events, generally calling for lower noise levels and shorter hours as a way to accommodate the neighbors’ concerns.
The task force also suggested that the town make improvements to other municipal parks and encourage event organizers to use those venues instead of using Sopris Park, as a way to spread out the impacts around town.
To accomplish that, the recommendations proposed, the town could impose a special events surcharge or possibly entrance fees at such Sopris Park events as Mountain Fair, to raise money for building a stage or other performance venue at another park.
“We’re going to have to be proactive in developing other venues that have amenities that people will like,” Kimberly said to the trustees.
As an incentive for event organizers to choose, say, Fourth Street Plaza over Sopris Park, the task force recommended that events at the Plaza be permitted to last longer into the nighttime hours.
“This was one of the more lively discussions that I’ve been a part of,” said task force member Jake Boyles of Crystal River Spas. “It was a good use of time.”
He noted that “Amy (Kimberly) and Jeri (Alberts) could not be farther apart on some issues, but I think a lot of common ground was achieved.”
Kimberly, who was sitting in the audience, nodded silently in agreement, and trustee Zentmyer said “it was a really healthy conversation.”
The task force will continue to meet, every October and February, to further discuss any issues and problems arising from special events in the future.
At another point in Tuesday’s trustee meeting, the board decided that the town should pull out of a dispute between some neighbors of the River Valley Ranch golf course and the management company that maintains the course. The fight is over the early-morning noise of mowers, prepping the course for the day’s play, sometimes as early as 5 a.m.
In response to a request from the golf course management company, and the Carbondale Police Department, the trustees amended the town’s codes to exempt the golf course from municipal noise ordinances, leaving it to the management company and the RVR Homeowners Association to work out their differences.
According to a letter from the golf course management, it is necessary to start prep work early to accommodate golfers seeking tee times starting at 7 a.m. For similar reasons, the letter stated, it is sometimes necessary for mowing crews and other workers to be working as late as 9 p.m., and on Sundays. The use of noisy, motorized equipment on Sundays is not permitted under the town codes, the letter pointed out.
The letter also stated that home buyers at RVR are handed declarations that point out the operations of the golf course, and the implied agreement concerning those occupations that a buyer gives at the time the home sale is closed.
The amendment approved by the trustees on Tuesday expressly exempts golf course operations, “(including mowing, irrigating and grooming) upon property … specifically zoned to permit use as a golf course.”
In other action, the trustees:
• Voted 7-0 to direct town staff members to negotiate with the owners of Mi Casita restaurant, over allegations that the bar has been caught serving minors by the Carbondale Police Department and agents of the Colorado Department of Revenue. Law enforcement authorities have asked that the trustees, acting as the town’s liquor licensing board, hold a “show cause” hearing concerning possible penalties for violations of state liquor laws.
According to the authorities, underage customers were observed buying and consuming alcoholic beverages, and state agents in plain clothes were able to enter the establishment and buy alcohol without having their IDs checked by restaurant staff.
Rather than schedule a hearing specifically, the trustees gave the restaurant owners, Federico and Graciela Peña, until the March 18 trustees meeting to either come up with a settlement with authorities, or participate in the show cause hearing.
The authorities have proposed a 10-day suspension of the restaurant’s liquor license, with another 20-day suspension deferred for one year.
• Granted a permit for recreational marijuana cultivation at a facility operated by the Doctor’s Garden retail marijuana shop.
• Approved an intergovernmental agreement with Garfield County, accepting a county grant of $500,000 toward improvements to Highway 133 as it passes through town. This grant is in addition to an earlier grant of $500,000 from the county for the same purpose.
• Approved an extension of development deadlines for the Thompson Park housing project, to accommodate the pending sale of a portion of the project to Ross Montessori School.