It was a little like “Bowling For Dollars.” During their regular meeting on Nov. 2, Mammoth Lakes Recreation Commission members went through the applications and hashed out its recommendation for Measure R Fall Funding Awards to be submitted to Town Council, using scorecards to track the progress of the requests. Some hit strikes, many will need to pick up spares later on, and there were a few that threw gutter balls.
Almost $2.3 million in requests, from 14 applications, were submitted, but the total available to be awarded only amounted to 627,500. The Commission used new and improved scorecards to evaluate the most recent adopted priorities, filters and checklist.
Commissioners considered whether requests met “the established objectives and intent of Measure R funding,” according the compiled table in the Staff report. As opposed to the previous “yes” or “no” responses, a more specific points-based system was used to rank certain criteria (detailed plan submitted, meets Recreation Commission goals, doesn’t use supplanting funds, etc.).
Some recommendations were fairly straightforward. Eastern Sierra Nordic Association’s $6,000 request for its Winter Biathlon, for example, was simple enough.
Not so easy, however, were how to handle the High Sierra Striders’ request for $510,000 for the Mammoth Track Project to be built at the Whitmore site. Considered the second phase (construction) of an incomplete project, Commissioners agreed to fund $300,000, and pick up the $75,000 balance in the 2011 Spring and Fall award cycles. Maintenance money, however, will need to be allocated from the General Fund.
According to High Sierra Striders representative Elaine Smith, funding approval, in any substantial amount, was a key factor in securing a loan the Striders are applying for that would assure forward movement of the project. Smith said the Measure R funding wouldn’t tie either the Measure R funding process or the Town to the loan, which she said is a totally separate arrangement between the Striders and a private partner.
Of the applications turned in, several were for Town plans, projects and facilities. An enhanced signage and wayfinding project received full funding ($20,000). And a $43,000 contract for a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) analysis for the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which commissioners deemed to be “a required fundamental planning document,” was recommended for $40,000. Chair Sauser said the overage could be considered during the 2011 Spring cycle. Yet to be adopted by Town Council, the commissioners agreed the Master Plan speaks directly to future recreation opportunities.
Others, however, such as rehabilitation of the community tennis courts ($250,000) and a new ice rink slab ($430,000) were recommended to receive no funding, at least not during the current cycle. Considered “existing facilities” that have been planned and designed, the commission recommended considering supplemental funding from future Measure R cycles or alternative sources, such as Developer Impact Fee or General Fund dollars. Upgrades to the tennis courts and concepts related to the general park area (including future plans for the community center) were deemed to be worth waiting on, pending other ideas for the 2007-dated conceptual plan, and how to deal with Town’s recent long-term lease of the center to Mono County, which could last as long as 10 years. (Staff plans to bring a revised plan before the Commission in January 2011 for possible consideration in the spring funding cycle.)
Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access, which didn’t apply for any seed funding from Mono County, got most of the 246,520 requested for completing Mammoth’s component of the Trails System plan. The Commission committed to funding $200,520 now and the rest of the $46,000 in the upcoming Spring cycle.
The Town’s Mammoth Creek Park concept plan is still on the table, but was held for later consideration. Chair Sauser pointed out that there are currently 5 plans in existence for the park, and the Commission would like to see one emerge as a front runner before pursuing a plan, or spend money on an outside consultant to recommend one.
And other Town applications were passed on, mostly for “supplanting funds” problems. Commissioners determined that requests for Mammoth Creek Park playground gear replacement and other upgrades, and a Whitmore Pool Modernization project were considered “replacements of existing facilities, and therefore not eligible for Measure R funding.” Commissioners recommended these should instead be funded with General Fund money.
One request that spurred some spirited discussion was a $53,000 Town-submitted application for design contract for the Trail End Park Completion and Little Brothers Skate Park. “Do we need another skate park in a town of 7,000?” Commissioner Knud Svendsen asked. Evidently the commission in general thinks we do, voting to fund $40,000 for now, and look at construction and equipment options in the spring.
Another even more controversial program, Mammoth Nordic Foundation’s Trail System $355,000 expansion plan, which included big-ticket items such as $120,000 for a new snowcat groomer and paid staff, was funded at last year’s level: $5,440. Sauser said that the remainder of the request would be taken up again once the plan was integrated with Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access and reviewed via the new RECSTRATS methodology.
The Commission ended up recommending just shy of $620,000 in awards. A workshop has been scheduled with the Town Council on Wednesday, Dec. 1, in Suite Z at 6 p.m. to discuss these recommendations. Council will consider awarding the 2010 Measure R Fall Funding amounts later in the evening as a policy item.