Past mistakes haunt TOML. Bourne champions Aquaman.
Solid and liquid forms of H2O plagued the South Gateway Partners Committee at its meeting Tuesday. Keeping an aquatic center on the table while simultaneously deciding how to move forward with the ice rink/multi-use facility had members swimming (and skating) in circles.
The meeting was intended to bring new members Rich Boccia (MUSD Superintendent) and Stacey Adler (Mono County Superintendent of Schools) up to speed on where South Gateway has been and where it’s heading. After committee member Evan Russell (Exec. Director of the Mammoth Lakes Foundation) gave a lengthy history on the parcel, Andrew Bourne asked why the discussion of a Rec Center with an aquatic component wasn’t being discussed anymore. Bourne pointed out that it was part of the 2005 South Gateway Master Plan, but now seemed to be overlooked.
“It’s the piece that doesn’t generate conversation,” Bourne said. “It would be a tragedy to lose this part of the vision because it would be very important to MUSD.” Bourne also sits on the Mammoth Unified School District Board.
Town Manager Rob Clark explained that the Rec Center generated a lot of talk in 2005 because it was believed that developers could take on a lot of the cost burdens. With the economy in its current situation, however, new forms of financing need to be found before discussions can continue.
Bourne suggested bringing the school bond back to the public. He claimed that the $65 million bond to build a new high school had failed because there were too many people in the community who do not have kids and wonder what’s in it for them to pay to build a new high school.
“If you brought the bond back and said a portion was going to update our current high school and then the other portion would go to an aquatic center, you would have more buy-in because it would be something everyone could benefit from,” Bourne believed.
He also pointed out that if an ice rink and a daycare facility (another idea on the table) were to be added permanently to the South Gateway Parcel, then a new Master Plan would need to be developed because those two pieces do not follow the 2005 plan.
At Town Council Wednesday, however, Mayor Pro Tem Jo Bacon reminded Mayor Skip Harvey, who sits on the Committee, that the 2005 South Gateway Master Plan had never been formally approved, and therefore was still only a draft plan.
“We are revisiting everything in the plan now,” Bacon told The Sheet, including one of the major issues, the multi-use facility, which everyone commonly refers to as the ice rink.
“The Town has to decide if they want to do the slab [to make the ice rink a permanent facility],” Bacon said. “I don’t think we will want to do it if we don’t own the land.”
Currently the land is owned by MUSD and the Town leases it. The dilemma is that many grants have already been invested in the ice rink, plus there is a new $500,000 grant that the Town has received for the slab. If the Town decides not to build the slab and not to continue with the multi-use facility, then the previous grants would have to be repaid and the new $500,000 grant refused, unless it was applied to a facility built elsewhere in town, according to Clark.
If the Town does decide to move forward with the slab, it will have to invest $400,000 on top of the $500,000 grant to complete the slab. The total estimated cost of a completed venue is northward of $4 million.
The South Gateway Partners Committee agreed to review the 2005 Draft Plan after the holidays. Town Council continued to discuss a potential purchase of the ice rink land during its closed session on Wednesday.