Council’s preferred alternative, Woolly optional.
Council grins and bears Gateway discussion
Elizabeth Tenney needs a new project. She said so herself at Wednesday’s Town Council meeting as she presented her ideas for the Mammoth Gateway Community Project. Tenney, who sits on the Planning Commission, but is taking on this project as a local citizen, was inspired to put a serious, permanent entrance to town on the ground after a joint meeting of the Commission and the Town Council on Nov. 17, 2010.
“I’m quickly realizing that this project is way beyond what I did at the Post Office,” she admitted to Council, in reference to her beautification project that has received a lot of positive attention.
The new project is a volunteer effort intended to implement one of the recommendations of the Downtown Concept for Main Street, as well as guidelines in the General Plan that call for a primary gateway marker at the entrance of town on the south side of Hwy 203, near the new courthouse building. Tenney expects that it would be a tourist attraction that would also serve as a promotional marketing piece since every photo taken in front of the sign and “tweeted around the world” would clearly show that the subjects in the photo were in Mammoth Lakes.
Even though the effort is turning out to be bigger than she had expected, Tenney was still energetic not only about keeping the cost of the entire process under $75,000, but also completing the bulk of it by November of this year. She is commissioning local stakeholders to work on the project on an in-kind basis. Local designer Larry Walker did his part by developing conceptual drawings of the monument, which Tenney used in her presentation on Wednesday.
“We need to make a statement when our guests come back next season that the lights are not going out in Mammoth,” Tenney explained.
She had already been to the Mono County Board of Supervisors earlier in the week with her presentation of the large monument sign signifying entrance into Mammoth Lakes, which would possibly include a woolly mammoth sculpture. She successfully garnered permission to put the monument on the land, which is county property, and on Wednesday was requesting in kind services and the waiving of permit fees from the Town of Mammoth as a show of its support.
Concerns from Council ranged from the liability of a monument that could potentially be 15 feet or higher (what happens when kids climb on it), to how the monument would fit into the branding process that Mammoth Lakes Tourism (MLT) is currently undertaking for the town. Some Councilmembers also preferred a bear sculpture rather than a mammoth, and Mayor Pro Tem Jo Bacon didn’t want a sculpture at all because she felt it whatever it was it would favor one business over another. Mayor Skip Harvey suggested Tenney ask Animal Planet or LMNO, the companies airing and producing the television show “The Bear Whisperer” about Mammoth local Steve Searles, to pay for the sculpture if it did turn out to be a bear.
Tenney’s specific request on Wednesday, in order to keep the project moving forward was for the Town to waive all permit fees and for it to provide staffing support for engineering, construction drawings, and other incidentals.
Council came to consensus to allow staff to administer the engineering for the project since Community Development Director Mark Wardlaw estimated it would only take about 15 hours. Bacon however, put the brakes on the fee waivers until staff could tell her exactly what the fees would be. She also did not support any in kind efforts other than the engineering until the Town begins its new fiscal year.
“We already have other commitments,” Bacon said.
Tenney will come back before Council in April to hear its decision on waiving fees and other areas of in kind support. In the interim, she hopes to meet with Rusty Gregory and Jim Smith at Mammoth Mountain to discuss what type of support the mountain will be able to provide. Council also directed her to work with John Urdi at MLT as well as the Public Arts Commission to make sure everyone was on the same page.