Last week at its Sept. 14 meeting, Mono County Supervisors threw Mammoth Dog Teams (MDT) another bone. Jim Ouimet’s business, which has its high season in winter, was one of two companies that turned in bids for a new lease on the Sheriff’s Substation property off of U.S. 395 and Hwy 203. Mammoth Brewing Company (MBC) was the other company that is interested in relocating its brewing facility to the site in anticipation of a flurry of future growth.
MBC has already maxed out its current Whiskey Creek location. Mammoth Dog Teams, meanwhile, has after much searching been unable to find another suitable site for its operation, calling the Substation property the best location the company has used in the past 10 years.
The County extended the lease to allow more time to resolve technical issues on the property and a potential co-tenant arrangement. Chair Byng Hunt asked about the ramifications of extending the new lease for at least six months, concerned that a short extension imposes a deadline too close to MDT’s winter season. Deputy County Counsel Stacey Simon replied that in 90 days they may enter into a new lease with MDT, or new leases with both parties, but in any case leaving the County’s options open doesn’t mean that MDT will be on the streets in December. Quite the contrary … much due diligence on the site has yet to be finalized and in all probability another extension in 90 days is a real possibility.
Public Works’ Kelly Garcia reported that MBC has indicated they are willing to work within the property’s size constraints; the main issue is water, the rights to which are currently held by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). A separate deal with LADWP would have to be worked out. Another larger issue is whether zoning allows operation of a brewery on the site, which has yet to be determined. So far, no conflicts between MBC and MDT have been observed, and Simon added that no conclusiveness has been reached as to the viability of MBC’s business plan, which is still being ironed out. The Board approved the extension 5-0.
The already financially challenged Eastern Sierra Transit Authority (ESTA) felt the ripple from the recent layoffs by Town Council of several key positions in Mammoth government. An accounting clerk for ESTA was also eliminated in the recent round of layoffs. ESTA had been paying $55,000 against $110,000 in accounting services through former Finance Director Brad Koehn’s office. On Sept. 2, along with the other Town staffers that were cut, so was the clerk’s position. ESTA Director John Helm and the advisory board and staff are working on a solution to the problem that will hopefully be ready for discussion by ESTA’s next regular meeting later in October.
The County also inked a contract for Energy Efficiency professional services with Eastern Sierra Energy Initiative. Kelly Garcia in Public Works said that since ESEI’s inception about one year ago, staff had several meetings with ESEI partnership members, including the Town of Mammoth Lakes, Southern California Edison and the High Sierra Energy Foundation. Mono County Finance Director Brian Muir recommended that the previous contribution of $10,000 be converted to a $25,000 contract for fiscal year 2010-2011 that would yield a potential savings of more than $117,000 over the next five years. ESEI Director Rick Phelps said the future contract amounts would in all likelihood be considerably less, as the general work is completed, and the emphasis shifts more toward maintenance and specific needs. “It will be much easier to justify expenses going forward,” he estimated. The contract, he said, takes the burden of providing services off of the County, which Phelps said is woefully understaffed for such an undertaking and allows them to focus on ongoing work.