In Carbondale, one man’s music is another’s noise |

In Carbondale, one man’s music is another’s noise

The Natives perform for the Lobster Fest — now the Mount Sopris Music Fest — at the Fourth Street Plaza in Carbondale.
Mark Fox / Aspen Times file |

Sopris Park has been at the heart of the Carbondale noise debate for several years now, but when the 2015 event calendar went before the trustees on Tuesday, several citizens showed up to remind them that the park isn’t the only venue with neighbors.

Patricia Phelan recounted the windows shaking when she house-sat near the Fourth Street Plaza, and said that she can make out the lyrics to most performances at her home nearly a mile away.

“Not one person said “I wish the music was louder,” Phelan said. “Sometimes less is more.”

Other attendees objected to the idea of live music as disruptive.

“I work at the private end of the Aspen airport. I know noise,” John Henderson said. “There’s a difference between live music at 9:30 and a jet engine.”

Bill Laemmel agreed. “I have trouble with the word noise and music being used in the same sentence,” he said. “It brings a lot of business downtown. This town sees people come from all over the valley, not just from Aspen but from Rifle for these events.”

Still, he sympathized with some of the complaints.

“Cowboy Up takes the prize for the loudest event in town and surprisingly the latest,” he said. “If I was any closer and I was trying to get asleep at 10 at night for an early start on Sunday I’d be a bit upset at the decibel level for sure.”

Some attendees addressed the impact of deep bass and suggested a broader variety of genres to decrease the impact. Others expressed dissatisfaction with the late hours of some events, a concern trustee Pam Zentmeyer shared.

“Let’s try to be really proactive about this whole amplification thing with our event folks,” she said. “I just think we need to say outdoor events need to come to a close at a specific time throughout our community.

Trustee Allyn Harvey agreed that standards had been applied differently downtown.

“Those events have always kind of pushed it a little later than the Sopris Park events,” he said.

Carbondale Council on the Arts and Humanities director and event task force member Amy Kimberly told the assembly that was a conscious decision.

“The only reason originally that there was a later time was that we were trying to find an incentive for people to move downtown from the park,” she said.

Trustee John Hoffman advocated a 10 p.m. end to liquor licenses, noting that many events make the majority of their profits in alcohol sales toward the end of the evening.

Town manager Jay Harrington observed that 10 p.m. is the cutoff for amplified music in the most recent code.

“Allowing it to go to 10:30 or 11 would be contrary to the code that we adopted last year,” he said.

Cowboy Up was the only planned event in violation of that rule, prompting the trustees to cut its end time from 11 p.m. to 10. Otherwise, they opted to move ahead with the schedule, which brings several weekend music events back to the park but otherwise looks a lot like last year’s.

“I think we did a pretty good job in limiting the events,” said recreation director Jeff Jackle.

Trustee Alexander Hobbs didn’t seem convinced that limiting the number of events was the ultimate solution.

“Some of the most incredible places I’ve been in the world have music all the time,” he said. “Hopefully we can bring the younger generation to the table and figure out how to continue our vibrancy in a way that’s more effective.”

Event task force member Frank Nadel had an idea about how to do that.

“Maybe it’s time we start about building or acquiring a more suitable place to have amplified music and concerts,” he said. “There’s not a lot of available land around, I know, but the ultimate goal should be to come up with a really quality place where we can have events in town that may not impact as much.”

In the meantime, the task force members said they’d be happy to get more feedback at their November and December meetings.

“I hope to see you all at those meeting next year, and the year after that, so that we can continue to make this process work for everybody,” said chair Jake Boyles.

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