“Who will be the John Wentworth for arts and culture speaking to you in the next five years about all of the exciting things going on,” asked community member Don Zeleny at Tuesday’s meeting of Mammoth’s Recreation Commission.
Several locals voiced their concerns at that meeting that the RecStrats Implementation Strategy Draft document, which was presented to the Commission that day, did not put arts and culture at the same level as recreation and mobility. MLTPA President and CEO John Wentworth, who spearheaded MLTPA in 2005 as a means to improve the Mammoth trails system, presented an update on the Mammoth Lakes Trail System just prior to the RecStrats discussion. Wentworth’s presentation demonstrated, according to Zeleny, the strides that can be made when someone takes charge of a project and sees it through. Arts and culture in Mammoth Lakes needs an advocate with the time and energy to push it to the forefront of the community’s mind, Zeleny opined.
“We need to wave the flag of what we have here,” said Chamber Music Unbound Board member Anne Tweet. “We need to make arts and culture more front and center.”
The concerns were raised because arts and culture is not specifically listed among the RecStrats Project Objectives.
RecStrats is a process that began a year ago when the Mammoth Town Council approved a recreation strategic planning process funded by MLTPA. This process was complete in November 2010. The Recreation Commission then requested that an implementation plan be developed for the strategies in the RecStrats plan. The Strategic Marketing Group was commissioned to lead this effort. The goal of the entire RecStrats process is to help shape the future of Mammoth’s recreation and make it the best alpine recreation community in the country.
“You’ve got recreation and mobility in the objectives, but not arts and culture,” complained Zeleny. “The community has to advance the mindset of arts and culture in town in order to get it on the map. We need a John Wentworth for arts and culture.”
The Commission however, felt that arts and culture was well represented in the draft document even though it was not listed in the objectives.
“This was not a Measure U strategic plan, it was a recreation strategic plan,” pointed out Commissioner Knud Svendsen, referring to the funding source for recreation, mobility, and arts and culture. While Measure U was discussed as one of the funding sources for projects during the RecStrats process, the goal of the final document was always meant to have a heavy focus on recreation overall, not Measure U specific projects.
Ralph Lockhart, who was a member of the RecStrats Steering Committee, added that arts and culture are listed as one of the seven core strategies.
Community member Bill Taylor suggested that while arts and culture may be identified in the document, it is not explicit.
“The Commission may feel arts and culture are identified, but someone five years from now may not,” Taylor said.
Taylor agreed, however, that the concerns being voiced stemmed from a larger need for an arts and culture advocate.
“Public agencies do not create the leaders for initiatives. Groups and/or individuals have to push for what they want,” Taylor said. “That’s how good things get done.”
Overall the document did what it set out to do. It delivered a project list prioritized by the community members who took part in the RecStrats process. The list was presented to the community at the linkage workshop and attendees were asked to rank them according to the guiding principles of stewardship/management, economic development, and quality of life. Rankings were averaged for a final score.
A multi-use field house/community recreation center received the highest ranking while an indoor performing arts center ranked sixth.
Any member of the community may comment on the document in the next few weeks. The final draft of the document will be presented to the Commission at its Aug. 9 meeting.