The subject was discussed in a work session at last week’s regular Town Council meeting, after which councilmembers gave Town staff the go-ahead to draft an ordinance to consider at its next meeting.
The conversation was brought to the table on account of a bill approved by the State Legislature last year that allows Colorado communities to create designated areas for outdoor consumption of alcohol, essentially allowing patrons to purchase alcoholic beverages within a liquor-licensed establishment and then bring them outdoors into the designated Entertainment District.
Yet as Council discussed last Thursday, the concept is far from straightforward, which brought to light the current ambiguities surrounding the Town’s open container policies during events like the popular Summer Concert Series.
The creation of an Entertainment District would allow people to purchase alcoholic beverages from local establishments, then take them off of those premises and into the Entertainment District – but only during certain, pre-designated times.
A Promotional Association, made up of liquor-licensed merchants in the Core area, would be formed, and would be responsible for coming up with the calendar of when Common Consumption rules would be in effect. That entity would also be responsible for providing security during Common Consumption events; designating and maintaining the visual boundaries of the Entertainment District, either with fencing or signs; and would need to carry liability insurance. Merchants participating in the Promotional Association would be required to provide plastic drink cups labeled with their business name and logo for patrons to bring outside.
Drinks purchased at one bar or restaurant would not be allowed within other bar or restaurant premises; outdoor consumption could only take place in areas designated as Common Consumption areas.
To participate in the association, a business must hold a liquor license and own or lease at least 20,000 square feet of space within the Entertainment District. Businesses within the district would have the option to decline membership in the association.
In passing an Entertainment District ordinance, Mountain Village could stipulate other parameters for the to-be-formed Promotional Association as well. As the law is written, all management of the Entertainment District would fall on the shoulders of the Promotional Association, essentially necessitating strong cooperation from merchants involved.
Adam Singer, who owns Poacher’s Pub in Sunset Plaza, voiced his support of Council passing the ordinance, indicating that he believes it would help clarify the currently hazy rules about open containers during events like the Sunset Concert series, while helping create more business and vitality in the Mountain Village Core.
As it now stands, rules are pretty relaxed about concertgoers bringing their own alcohol onto the grassy knoll adjacent to Sunset Plaza (land that is owned by Telluride Ski and Golf Company).
Open container rules are essentially being ignored, Singer said. “I know I have people sneaking drinks out, and bringing drinks in,” he said. “At least this way we can manage that, while still reaping the benefits” of a business-driving event like the concert series. “It’s a windfall for everybody.”
Mountain Village Chief of Police Chris Broady said the department has not faced many alcohol-fueled problems during the popular concert series in the past, noting that his staff has tried to maintain a “guest-oriented” presence during the concerts, which are popular among picnickers who often bring their own alcoholic beverages. However, he acknowledges that controlling alcoholic consumption during the event presents challenges for the police department, and believes passing the ordinance would relieve the town’s police officers of some of the work related to policing these kinds of events. The stipulation that the Promotional Association would need to provide security would alleviate some of the pressures Mountain Village police feel as the event continues to grow, Broady said.
But all Mountain Village merchants were not in agreement about creating an Entertainment District.
Daniel Zemke, General Council for Telluride Ski and Golf (the company owns two Mountain Village dining establishments in the Core, as well as the property used for the Concert Series) said they are not in support of the ordinance.
“Telski is opposed because of the unintended consequences and no clear answers” about where liability lies with such an organizational set-up, Zemke said. “If the attempt is to simplify the special event process, Telski certainly stands behind that. But I don’t see how wandering around with a cup of alcohol in the area is necessarily a boon to business.”
Jeff Jurecki, who owns Tracks, expressed reservations about the ordinance as well, stating he wasn’t necessarily against it but was concerned about its repercussions, especially since the statute hasn’t been in existence for long.
If such an ordinance does pass, it would make Mountain Village one of the few communities in the state to do so. Glendale and Greeley are the only other Colorado communities that have considered creating Entertainment Districts since the bill passed last summer.
Council will revisit the issue at their regular April meeting.