Pat and Harley at Rainbow Falls. (Submitted photo)
Pat chats about recent appointment to Mammoth’s Recreation Commission
Mammoth Lakes’ Town Council seems bent on changing the complexion of the town’s Recreation Commission. In the process of scaling back the size of the commission from 7 to 5 members, Council recently opted to reappoint one incumbent, Tony Colasardo, leave one seat unfilled and appoint one new member, Pat Agnitch.
Many readers may be familiar with the last name, via recently retired Mammoth High School Principal Mike Agnitch, but at the same time may be asking, “Pat? Who?” Wonder no longer … we sat down for a chat with Pat (and yes, she’s Mike’s spouse), and learned she may have quite a lot to bring to her Rec Commission seat.
Agnitch, who resides in Crowley Lake, has more than 34 years of experience in various aspects of the recreation profession, ranging from her start as a Recreation leader to her managerial tenure as Assistant Director of Community Services for the City of Beverly Hills from 1974-2008.
“I started out on a track for a social worker, but took a recreation class and thought this is for me,” she recalled. Before taking on the role of a department head, however, came the “boots on the ground” experience.
“Playgrounds, art shows, 10K runs, we moved tables and chairs, gave presentations,” Agnitch recalled. “No job was beneath me. I did it all … whatever it took to get things done.”
Community Services encompassed the recreation division in Beverly Hills for all age groups, and park maintenence. Facilities, lawncare, renovation projects and caring for the urban forest’s 30,000 trees.
“We had a budget of about $13 million, which I managed. Our tree trimming budget was more than $1 million a year,” she explained. “We had a lot of species of trees and even had a street trees master plan. People are very passionate about their trees down there.”
Upon moving up to Mammoth a few years back, Agnitch immediately immersed herself in area doings. She joined the Mammoth Women’s Club and volunteered at both the Valentine Reserve and with the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab (SNARL). This led to involvement with the California Native Plant Society, becoming a Lodge Host at Mammoth Mountain, and serving on the Long Valley Regional Planning Advisory Committee (RPAC).
“It’s not in my nature to sit around and read books, although I love to read,” she quipped. “I like to stay active and busy. In my professional career, I worked in the recreation industry and being a Mammoth second homeowner at the time, I’d get information and see things on trails and such. It’s in my blood. I’ve seen recreation from a project perspective and the levels of change that can be made.”
Agnitch said she likes the current Commission and its direction. “It’s a hard-working commission and they work really well together, which was very appealing. There’s not a lot of dissent.” When it comes to policy and practice, however, she does have a few tenets on which she’s standing “pat.”
“Revenues are important, but you have to provide for the needs of the community, and some of those come with high price tags,” she stated. “I like the partnerships and collaboration between the Town and various entities that’s been going on, and I’d like to see more of that.”
Still coming up to speed on the Commission’s ongoing work, she also hopes to learn the reasons why certain segments of the population, seniors and young adults for example, aren’t accommodated in terms of adequate programming. “It’s not unusual,” she added. “Lots of communities struggle with those age groups.”
Her thoughts on the new RECSTRATS (Recreation Strategies) methodology adopted by the Town? “I like it … I think it’s heading in the right direction. It provides a good framework for offering activities in the community.”
In terms of priorities, she only has a few things on her punch list, but said she’s not coming in with an agenda as such. “I’d like to know more about how they’re working toward the 2008 Master Plan, and what economic factors are helping/hindering achieving all or most of that plan.” She also thinks RECSTRATS needs to be put on its feet as soon as possible. “Some of the goals are pretty lofty, but at least [the Commission and Town staff are] working toward that end.”
Another area she thinks could use some work is coordination between groups and events. “There are a lot of different entities trying to capture segments of the community. I think the new sports group is a good idea, and the same idea needs to be done with events,” she opined. “There’s the Town, there’s the Village, there’s the Mountain, and it all helps publicize Mammoth, but it needs to be more concerted, so one group isn’t picking dates that conflict with or step on another group.”
Now that she’s retired, Agnitch said she’s a recreator now, too, and thus hopes to avoid being labeled. “I have a lot of different interests and am not focused on any one particular activity. I ended up being fairly neutral in my approach to the issues the Commision is tackling. I’m not pro parks or pro tennis, I’m pro whatever events or features enhance the quality of our lives”
Colasardo, a 30-year Mammoth resident and an owner of Footloose Sports, currently serves as Vice Chairman and has served on the Recreation Commission for 12 years. He and Agnitch join current commissioners Bill Sauser (Chair), Teri Stehlik, Knud Svendsen and Sean Turner.
Agnitch officially assumed her duties at the Commission’s regular meeting on Dec. 7.