Have you ever gone to an interview for a job and then when the interview is over, you’re sitting in your car and you think of all the really important, intelligent things you could have said?
Well, I interviewed for the Recreation Commission. Didn’t get a seat. That OK. But here are some (not necessarily important or intelligent) things I wish I would have said.
1) Why do we need a Recreation Commission? We have a Recreation Department. Seems like every time someone can’t make a decision, a new committee or study group or something is formed to make the decision that should have been made by people already responsible for making decisions.
We have NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) like MLTPA (Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access) that do a fantastic job producing real plans for real ideas. John Wentworth and Kim Stravers have put together a powerful and capable organization. Why not just hire MLTPA to manage recreation for the town and disband the Recreation Department and all the sub-committees and commissions that support it? It’s called outsourcing. Maybe we could actually get something done that way.
2) The funds generated by Measure R and soon Measure U seem to be divided up into smaller and smaller pieces so that everybody can get something. If you divide a pie up into smaller and smaller pieces, eventually all that is left is crumbs.
Put the funds from R and U into some kind of escrow account — maybe an interest generating account — and then make concrete plans to build big things like a real year-round ice rink or year- round recreation center or year-round swimming facility or SHARP (Sherwins Area Recreation Plan) or the Striders track. Then take the money out and leverage it if possible and build the big things — one at a time. And do them right and do them so that they are at least capable of hosting collegiate level competition events.
If Mammoth Lakes desires to be a World Class Destination Resort, we have to have World Class Recreation Facilities that match the World Class Ski Hill that is MMSA.
3) Our ice rink sucks and it’s in a bad location. No matter how much money is put into the ice rink, it will always be in a bad location. It needs to be a visible, signature facility. I see two spots in town that would be ideal. The first best place is on the north side of Main St at the intersection of Old Mammoth Rd. which is currently Forest Service land.
If not there, then the next best place is at Sierra Nevada Lodge (Old Mammoth Place). Property owner Jim Demetriades has already shown the sense to begin development of attractions and facilities for recreation to draw people to his business — smart guy. Why not sell, lease or give whatever facilities and equipment the town has invested in for the town’s ice rink to Demetriades? Do so with the agreement to run a year-round ice rink for an extended period of time.
It will be better for the town to stop throwing good money after bad. Demetriades will get a great attraction and the town will get a needed recreation facility.
4) We have high altitude training for two of the three sports of a triathlon — biking and running. But we don’t have an adequate facility for swimming. Whitmore Pool is little more than a splash and pee pool for kiddies. It’s crowded and available only part of the year and it’s a long way out of town.
A few years back as I recall, some Town Councilmembers went on a peer resort junket where they looked at different swimming facilities. Nothing came of it. With Prop R and Measure U, we certainly could have enough money to build a year-round facility with a competition- level pool.
With all the beach area transplants here in Mammoth, a good swimming facility for adult swim training would be an entirely appropriate, and popular, facility.
5) Every time I go to Shady Rest Park, I see people playing soccer and nobody playing baseball. We have three really well-kept baseball diamonds that I’ve not seen used and two rather shabby soccer fields that need grading and better turf. Why don’t we convert one or two of the baseball diamonds at Shady Rest Park to soccer fields and grade and re-turf the existing soccer fields and give the soccer players some real support?
Anyway, that’s what I wish I would’ve said…