Don’t lace up your bowling shoes and start forming leagues just yet, but if all goes apace, Mammoth could soon have a new recreational outlet that could give you a reason to fish that bowling ball from the recesses of your garage.
On Wednesday Developer Dan O’Connell gave Mammoth’s Planning Commission a preview of his proposed Mammoth Rock ‘N Bowl Center.
O’Connell’s project would be located off Old Mammoth Road on Chateau, on a parcel situated between the Cast Off and Southern California Edison buildings. Rock ‘N Bowl architect Bruce Woodward called the entertainment facility “unique,” adding it not only represents a “significant investment in the community,” but also jives with the southern part of the Town’s Neighborhood District Planning scheme.
The bowling center (the industry doesn’t care for the term “alley”) is designed to give Mammoth a venue for indoor, family-friendly activities, which Woodward and O’Connell suggest are currently lacking and needed in town.
In addition to 12 lanes of bowling, darts, billiards, the center would also feature bar and restaurant amenities. Rather than the standard video arcades (which have largely been supplanted by PlayStation, Wii and X-Box), three, state-of-the-art golf simulators will be available, with applications for Pebble Beach and other major courses.
A typical bowling center is a large, rectangular box, with everything on one level. This one would be articulated to the look and feel of Mammoth, and utilize two stories for better views from the building. Front of the building is on the street, but the back of the building with views facing the Sherwins is where everyone will want to be.
Dining areas would accommodate 192 patrons inside, and another 120 on two outdoor decks. Menus would ideally vary between the bar and the main restaurant area. As opposed to outside dumpsters, trash facilities would be located inside the utility part of the building, a feature that resonated favorably with commissioners.
One design issues is keeping street shoes from tracking in cinders that can negatively impact maintaining the bowling surface. Much thought is being applied to the shoe changing area to mitigate those impacts.
Future expansion is not considered likely, at least not for now. O’Connell said lots of things are possible, but for now he’s focusing on controlling the cost of the facility itself, not to mention parking and other expenses, such as the golf simulators.
“After a lifetime in west L.A., my wife and I moved the family up to Mammoth,” O’Connell told the Commission. “In November 2008 I went to a birthday at a bowling center in the S.F. Valley … it was modern, we had a great time. I said, ‘Mammoth needs one of these!’ It was one of those lightbulb moments!”
Why hasn’t it been done if it’s such a great idea? Good question. O’Connell said he kept hearing locals talking about having birthdays and going bowling at the center in Bishop. “I thought, ‘This is a good sign,’” he told the Commission. “The first person I spoke to about it in town was someone who really knows recreation [Town Recreation Manager Stuart Brown], and he pointed to a bowling center in Park City that’s very popular.”
Woodward added that Vail and Steamboat also have successful bowling centers.
And little wonder … bowling has proven to be a enduring sport, boasting some 100 million bowlers worldwide. Most small towns have centers, and O’Connell said even SAC (Strategic Air Command, in charge of US bombers and ballistic missiles) actually has a manual for how to build and operate a bowling centers.
O’Connell said that people of all ages tell him the same three words: “I can’t wait [for the bowling center],” which he said punctuated the need for more indoor recreation. He emphasized the center’s location and its walking distance proximity to schools, and claimed that deas have already been discussed for summer and other kids programs.
Early in the planning process the Town will have to decide how much it wants the center, particularly when it comes to making concessions on Affordable Housing mitigation and Development Impact Fees. Those stand to potentially double the cost of the center, though O’Connell acknowledges the numbers are still being crunched and the scope of the project isn’t final yet.
According to O’Connell, members of the community are already asking about leagues even though escrow on the building hasn’t even closed yet. “As a former attorney, and now a businessman, I find it personally gratifying, providing something that’s been long overdue.”
Staff is currently processing O’Connell’s application. A public hearing is planned to go before the Planning Commission sometime this summer.