Katie Vane is bowled over at the idea of having a little Brooklyn in Mammoth.
I spent the last two years living in Manhattan, attending graduate school for one of the most useful degrees out there: an MFA (Masters in Fine Arts) in Fiction. I lived in Mammoth for the summer before I moved to the Big Apple, and I remember the looks I got when I told friends where I was headed in August. They were the same looks I got from friends in NYC when I described where I was heading after graduation. “That sounds like the total opposite of the City,” they said.
The funny thing is, while NYC and Mammoth are vastly different in many ways, in other ways they are surprisingly similar. In the neighborhoods of Manhattan and Brooklyn, it isn’t unthinkable for neighbors to greet each other on the street, or for patrons to chat with the men and women behind the counters of their local delis, bodegas and grocery stores.
New York gets a reputation for being a hostile, lonely place; it’s a reputation that’s sometimes earned, and almost always cultivated, but I often had a different experience with the City. I saw plenty of acts of generosity worthy of a small town, the best example being when a young man dashed after a woman on the subway to return the wallet she’d dropped. I even got to know the folks in my neighborhood, those who waited tables at my favorite restaurants or walked their dogs at the same time I was headed to class. Moreover, in a city of millions, you can still bump into friends. On the subway especially, I ran into friends and former schoolmates all the time. Turns out the New York subway is a bit like Mammoth’s Vons in that respect.
That’s why moving back to Mammoth hasn’t been as jarring a transition as my friends might have imagined. But — and it’s a big but — of late I realized what’s missing the most in Mammoth is having a diversity of watering holes, particularly come nighttime. Yes, Mammoth has plenty of great places to drink, but New York also has concert venues, art galleries, late-night diners, karaoke, and hey, even bowling alleys.
One of my favorite places to hang out in NYC was a bowling center called Brooklyn Bowl. It offered 16 lanes, a lounge, a stage for concerts, and a bar featuring beer on tap from the adjacent micro-style Brooklyn Brewery. The place was the perfect combination of bar, dancehall and game room. And I wasn’t the only one who thought so … Brooklyn Bowl was swamped every night I was there.
So when I heard about Rock ‘N Bowl, the bowling “center” proposed to the Town’s Planning Commission by architect Bruce Woodward and real estate investor Dan O’Connell, I was excited to think that Mammoth might get a chance to augment its nightlife. At the meeting O’Connell noted that, “There’s nothing to do here except eat and drink, and if these last two weeks haven’t punctuated that, nothing will.”
The bowling center would be built between the Cast Off and the Southern California Edison building, on a lot used now for snow storage. With 12 lanes of bowling, a bar and restaurant facilities, as well as billiard tables, a potential music venue and dance floor, and three golf simulators upstairs, Rock ‘N Bowl would be the kind of “adult entertainment center,” as Woodward put it, that I’ve been missing.
After the winter we’ve had, I know I’m not alone in needing something more to do in Town than just drink. But I’m a little afraid to get my hopes up with Rock ‘N Bowl, considering some of the obstacles the project will face as it seeks approval from Mammoth’s Planning Commission and Town Council. For instance, up until Monday night, the Town was requiring a total of 140 parking spaces for the bowling center. To put this in perspective, 140 parking spaces would mean a parking lot essentially the same size as the entire lot on which the Rock ‘N Bowl would be built. Or to put it another way, 140 parking spaces would mean a parking lot as big as the one in front of Vons.
This number has since been reduced to 37. As Community Development Director Mark Wardlaw said this week, the justification for the reduction is that in the initial analysis, parking for the various uses (restaurant, bowling, dance hall, etc.) were calculated separately.
Another hurdle for the project may be Development Impact Fees, which a member of the development team said are currently calculated at nearly $1 million for the 24,000-square foot project. The developer hopes to negotiate this number downward.
If the details are worked out, construction on Rock ‘N Bowl can begin as planned in April. The way I see it, Mammoth already has some of New York’s worst qualities: tricky rules for development, soaring rents and an overall cost of living such that most friends I know are working two if not three jobs. Why not emulate some of NYC’s (shocking, I know) better qualities? We have plenty to do in the daylight here, but why not take a few lessons from “the City that never sleeps” and incentivize some much-needed variety to Mammoth’s nightlife?Share Email This Post