Majority of June Lake stands together
A large portion of the June Lake community, some would even say the majority, is standing behind the groundwork done so far to prepare for the upcoming winter without June Mountain.
“Three or four people’s egos were bruised last week, and it’s unfortunate that one person sits on the Board,” stated Mono County Tourism and Film Commission Chair Jimmy Little at Tuesday’s Commission meeting. “But to challenge the enthusiasm of the rest of this group is unfair.”
Little was referring to statements made by Mono County Supervisor Vikki Bauer (see last week’s cover story, “Hostile Takeover”) regarding the planning process June Lake has been going through to determine the best use of the $100,000 given to the community by the County.
“The vast majority is focused and moving forward in a positive direction,” said Double Eagle owner and June Lake Revitalization Committee member Connie Black. “We’re not going to agree on every point, but we are moving forward.”
Patti Heinrich, also a member of the June Lake Revitalization Committee added that she was angry that “a handful of individuals was not attending the planning meetings and were then making inaccurate statements.
“The community is coming together more than ever and we’ve got good ideas going here,” Heinrich added.
Jeff Simpson of the Mono County Economic Development Department added that a recent email survey sent out by the County had garnered 208 responses (out of 225 emails sent) and helped to gauge the community’s feelings on the ideas currently on the table.
“It wasn’t scientific, we were just looking for feedback,” Simpson explained.
Last week, Bauer stated during her Board report that the June Lake community was having a tough time determining what to do with the last $30,000 of the $100,000. She gave the impression that the community wasn’t able to agree on how to spend the funds. Bauer, who had been a June Lake Chamber member, stepped down from her Chamber position after a meeting two weeks ago when the Chamber was asked if it would like to act as the pass through vehicle for the $30,000.
Bauer claimed it was a hostile takeover where members who did not often show up for meetings arrived in force to outvote the core members of the Chamber.
Current Chamber President Ralph Lockhart said this week that he completely disagrees with Bauer’s comments about how the process has gone, claiming it has been completely “synergistic.” He added that the request to the Chamber to act as the pass through has been withdrawn and the Chamber will not be responsible for anything.
A local entity, however, will still be needed to help distribute the money earmarked for events, according to Mono County Economic Development Manager Alicia Vennos. But, Economic Development Director Dan Lyster added that the County would not just be handing over the money for the entity to spend willy nilly.
“The entity will be given a scope of what is to be done with the money,” Lyster said. The Tourism and Film Commission will still be overseeing the dollars.
Lyster told The Sheet that the local entity is necessary to expedite the planning and payment processes.
“A lot of subcontractors [musicians, artists, vendors, etc.] will be necessary in the events category,” Lyster said. “It would take a lot of time for the County to develop contracts with each subcontractor because of liability and other details.”
He added, however, that if a local entity could not be found to fill the check-cutting shoes, the County would take it on.
Transit and white lights
In her report last week, Bauer said that transit had been taken off the table for a potential use of part of the $100,000. At Tuesday’s Commission meeting, however, a large portion of the discussion revolved around transit and approximately $20,000 had been earmarked in the budget for that purpose. The community is just nailing down the particulars of how often to run transit to and from Mammoth, where pickup spots should be, whether or not to charge a fare, etc.
Bauer had also criticized the idea of stringing lights on the buildings throughout the June Lake village, claiming, “Little white lights are not going to fix things.”
However, at Tuesday’s meeting, the group discussed that the illumination was more than just a decoration.
“The whole thing is a package,” Little said. “It’s the whole experience. It’s not about getting people here the first time, but about getting them to come back. We have to distinguish this place from other mountain towns. It’s not just about busing and marketing, it’s about making memories.”
Vennos agreed and added that this type of charm and experience is what she was hoping to market.
“We need to develop that experience, that atmosphere and sense of place,” Vennos said. “We need to wow people when they get here.”
She used the street entertainment in Whistler, B.C. as an example.
“People don’t go to Whistler for the street entertainment, but they love it when they get there. It completes the experience.”
The community is looking at the entire picture and stretching the $100,000 as far as it can, from attracting visitors to keeping them.
“These efforts need to continue even if the Mountain reopens,” Little said. “If you do nothing, you get nothing.”
Following Bauer’s Board report last week, fellow Board members requested an update on the process, and Supervisor Hap Hazard suggested the Board consider taking some of the money back. The Tourism and Film Commission, with the support of the June Lake community, will go before the Board this coming Tuesday to provide that update and reassure the supervisors that the entire $100,000 is needed and is being used responsibly.