Mammoth Lakes Town Council voted by a 3-2 margin to move forward with plans for a revised Multi-Use Facility project at Mammoth Creek Park.
The new MUF will be made of a “Tensile Fabric Structure,” according to Town Engineering Manager Haislip Hayes. Translation: It’s a tent, just like Eagle Lodge.
Which may not appeal to the architectural snobs who were pushing for an iconic building which matches the grandeur of our natural surroundings, but … the price is right.
And unlike Eagle Lodge, Hayes said there are design and color options which will help mitigate the, well, blandness.
As Hayes said, his mandate was to bring a project in for $13 million or less, and this one provides all the goodies (four locker rooms, bleachers, lobby, storage, concessions, et. al.) and keeps the Town on this side of that line in the sand.
Some contemplated extras (like building out a 6,000-square foot mezzanine for community space, 100 extra parking spaces) are not included in the $13 million plan but can be added as desired.
A basic rink and roof alternative plan, open on two sides and with no extras, was priced at about $15 million.
Steel’s expensive. Blame the tariff game.
The new structure, which boasts a 65-year life span, will require environmental review, because height and setbacks will change.
The proposed Sprung Structure is 13’ taller than the previous design, and the setback from the nearest condominium development would be reduced from 90’ to 50’.
Interestingly, these changes did not even merit mention Wednesday.
Once Town Staff clears revised environmental and planning hurdles, the project is expected to be brought back for final approval next spring.
The most interesting aspect of Wednesday’s Council meeting was in how many of the faces have changed. There were a whole new set of parents and children advocating for an ice rink, as former advocates care far less, their children having largely aged-out of the prime use years.
Parent Paul Geffry, speaking on behalf of the rink, noted that this was a community conversation that had been going on for 6-7 years.
He later acknowledged that he had been guessing. He knew it had been going on a long time, and figured 6-7 years sounded like a long time without getting into wild exaggeration.
*The Sheet’s been in business 16 years and this has been an issue since day one.
There were no dissenting voices in Wednesday’s audience. Hockey grandparent Dale Gilbert said simply, “There’s not a major ski area that doesn’t have one [a rink].”
Citizen Sandy Hogan was the closest to voicing opposition, but didn’t come out against the project – at least directly. She did say she was worried that pursuing such a project would distract the town from its #1 priority – housing.
Council, as evidenced by the vote, was divided.
Councilman Kirk Stapp took the Hogan tack, citing competing priorities and financial obligations. He voted no.
Councilmembers Bill Sauser, John Wentworth and Lynda Salcido were strongly supportive. Sauser said housing isn’t the only important thing on Council’s agenda these days. The health and welfare of those who live here is also important.
Mayor Cleland Hoff was against the proposal. “I don’t think a Sprung [Structure] fits in this town whatsoever,” she said.
She also said there were those who had contacted her to voice opposition to the project but given the political environment, were afraid to come forward at a public meeting.
Hoff said she prioritized growing food before candy, and views the MUF as candy.
Councilman John Wentworth couldn’t help but swallow that baited M&M.
“I’m not serving on a Council that can’t walk and chew gum at the same time,” he declared, while holding up a Council priorities list, created during some unnamed strategy session.
The rink, he said, was on the list.
Hoff suggested that the priorities list may have been determined by Council consensus, but that the MUF had never been a priority of hers.
*Just so folks are reassured. Vanir Construction Management (Fresno) performed an independent analysis of the two construction bids received for the initial project last year which came in around $19 million.
Vanir determined that both bids were legitimate and based upon soaring costs for materials, particularly steel, the Town’s original project design, built today, would cost about $22 million.