Mammoth Rec Commission finalizes Measure R recommendations
On Tuesday, Dec. 17, the Mammoth Lakes Recreation Commission gathered to develop recommendations for the Measure R fall 2013 funding cycle. Natural grass versus synthetic turf was a large part of the discussion.
Five applications came before the Commission: one from the Mammoth Track Club for additional equipment for the Whitmore Track, and four applications from the Town of Mammoth Lakes.
A fund balance of more than $1 million is what is actually sitting in the Measure R coffers. However, a total of $756,100 is already encumbered, which is part of the issue the Commission is trying to alleviate with the development of a reserve (See last week’s story, Save or Spend?).
Last spring, the Commission started a reserve fund using the 2012 fall/2013 spring balance of $291,277. If the Commission agreed by majority to continue to dedicate these funds to a reserve, which is in addition to the capital investment fund of $300,000, then limited funds (approx. $20,000) would be available to conduct the fall award.
It was clear from the onset of Tuesday’s meeting that the Commission planned to spend more than $20,000 from the fall award.
Right off the bat, Commissioners agreed to fund the Mammoth Roller Rink operations application at the full $20,000, the Whitmore Pool technology upgrades at the full $7,000 and the equipment for the track at the full $52,191.
And then the discussion came to the Trails End Park. The request for the park was for $292,000. Two hundred thousand of that was for a match to a grant for which the Town plans to apply. The remaining $92,000 was for grass or turf at the park.
Commission Chair Bill Sauser was adamant about using the small plot of land as a pilot spot for synthetic turf.
“We already have parks with real grass, Mammoth Creek Park and Shady Rest,” Sauser argued. “If we don’t ever try the turf, we’ll never know.”
It was a tough sell to his fellow commissioners, not only due to the price (natural grass would cost $50,000 less than synthetic), but also due to the look and feel of natural versus synthetic.
“Ideally I would like natural grass,” said Commissioner Sean Turner, who reminisced on how nice real grass would feel versus synthetic.
“You’re just having a Currier and Ives moment,” Sauser said. “You’re being nostalgic.”
While the upfront cost of synthetic would be $50,000 more than natural, long term the two would break even, as it would cost the Town about $2,000 per year to water the natural grass.
“Two years down the road, the grass is going to be greener for whatever we didn’t do,” Turner said. “We’ll be wishing we did the other.”
Ultimately the Commission was able to agree that it was willing to spend $40,000 on whatever type of turf gets put down. Commissioners and staff plan to approach the Mammoth Community Water District (MCWD) to see if it would partner with the Town on a synthetic turf pilot project and pay for some of the costs.
“I would prefer natural grass, but if we can get MCWD to play ball then we go with synthetic,” Turner summarized.
“So we go with synthetic if we get funding from MCWD and natural if we don’t,” added Commissioner Teri Stehlik.
The Commission then agreed to earmark $200,000 from the reserve fund for the grant match.
Finally, the Commission agreed to allocate $55,000 to the Parks Master Plan, $5,000 more than was requested. The additional dollars are meant to ensure that the plan is complete and includes all parks.
The Commission’s recommendations will now go to the Town Council for final approval.