After going round and round at its last two meetings about the make up and the purpose of the Measure U Committee, the Mammoth Lakes Town Council came to the conclusion this week that it would separate the process into two committees.
The first will determine how recreation funding is going to be distributed, in general, going forward. Measures R and U will need to be considered holistically and comprehensively with all the Town’s other funding sources and needs in order to maximize their benefits.
This group, dubbed the Municipal Finance Committee, will be made up of representatives from the Mobility, Public Arts, Recreation and Planning commissions, plus one community member at large. The Town hopes to hire a facilitator that is an expert in municipal finance to lead this committee through determining how the multiple plans on the table at this time (RecStrats, the Destination Resort and Community Economic Development Study, the Trails Plan, and others) can come together and overlap efficiently, and how funding should be doled out.
“We need to coordinate all of our efforts and bring them forward at the same time,” Council member Rick Wood said. “I am struggling out loud over how to mechanically achieve what we want to do.”
Wood thinks that the debate comes down to piecemeal spending versus taking all or part of the money, and leveraging and bonding it to get a larger sum.
Executive Director of the Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation John Wentworth reminded the Council that they do have the Measure R Steering Committee to look back on to see a process that worked. He also reminded the Council that leveraging is not necessarily bonding.
“A bond just means that you get the money up front and then pay for getting it up front; it’s not [the same as] leveraging.”
Wentworth suggested that as Council went through these processes it look to resources it has to actually leverage what the Town is doing.
Council member Matthew Lehman was concerned that it may be difficult to find the expertise in municipal finance that the Town is looking for, but in the long run Council decided to give the Municipal Finance Committee a try.
Wood suggested a March 1 deadline for the Municipal Finance Committee’s work because that date coincides with when the Council has requested the other processes mentioned above be completed.
“It will be an interesting spring,” Wood predicted.
The second committee will be the Measure U implementation committee. Council will discuss that committee’s scope at its Dec. 15 meeting before proceeding with decisions such as who will sit on the committee and how many members it will have.
Town Wildlife Specialist Steve Searles recommended that people in Mammoth Lakes continue to use caution when it comes to bears. Searles said a sow with two cubs was breaking into cars to get a few more snacks before bedding down for the winter. “She has a sweet tooth and she likes beef jerky,” Searles claimed, but she also wasn’t opposed to lip gloss and suntan lotion. With the cold weather coming on, the bears should be inactive within the next week or so. “The snowfall should seal the deal,” Searles said.
Mammoth Brewing Company’s Sean Turner introduced a new group to the Town Council this week. He simply called it an “events group,” not specifying any name, but wanted to let the Council know the group existed and had the intent to develop a more coordinated events program in town.
“Our immediate need is to pursue a new large events site,” Turner said, since the longevity of Sam’s Woodsite as a primary event venue is uncertain. Members of the events group include Cathleen Calderon, Kama Newbry and Joyce Turner.
Sean also asked Council to look into who is responsible for keeping the sidewalk between the Village parking lot and Berner Street clear of snow in winter. Turner described it as an “ice road of death” last winter. He claimed people had a difficult time getting from the Village to his tasting room at Mammoth Brewing Company because the sidewalk was blocked with 15 feet of snow that had been piled up from the Village parking area. Council agreed to put it on a future agenda.
And John Wentworth pointed out to Council that with the new use of Sherwin Creek Road by Turner Propane there is the potential for some staging issues given all of the winter uses, such as snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, etc. in the area this season. He stated that the Sherwins Working Group had met on Tuesday evening to discuss a plan for the area, but that until something concrete was put into place he just wanted to get it on the Council’s radar.