On Wednesday Recreation Commissioners and town staff met with the intent of prioritizing an narrowing down a list of 10 town applications for Measure R funding. “The town didn’t want staff to work on all 10 applications,” explained Commissioner Teri Stehlik, “so they asked us to bring forward what we thought would be feasible.” The 10 applications request a total of about $900,000 in funding, when currently only $305,000 is available in Measure R funds.
“I have a problem with this whole process we’re going through today,” Stehlik said. “We’re going through a discussion like it’s an application process prior to any application process.”
In attendance to answer questions about their applications were Senior Associate Engineer Peter Bernasconi, Superintendent of Parks Dennis Rottner, and Senior Planner Ellen Clark. Applications ranged from a request for a $75,000 new Bobcat to plow the Lakes Basin bike path, to a $60,000 special event venue feasibility study. Commissioners weighed the pros and cons of each, and ultimately decided that the new Bobcat wasn’t necessary — although Recreation Manager Stuart Brown pointed out that “we have a $13 million path but really no machinery to maintain it” — while that the feasibility study, if the price came down from $60,000, could be. Commissioner Stehlik noted that, with or without a feasibility study, the “momentum for a new venue is there. We need to have the application filled out so we can at least have some more information.”
Two more town applications, one for a new Whitmore Pool cover and another for Community Center tennis courts rehabilitation, received unanimous support from the Commission. “This is pure supplanting,” Chair Bill Sauser said of the tennis courts, “but I say bring the application forward anyway.”
An application that met with greater resistance was one that asked for $300,000 for contract services through Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access (MLTPA) for the Mammoth Lakes Trail System, with an emphasis on facilitating a partnership between the town and the Forest Service. “This application is much too nebulous,” said Commissioner Patricia Agnitch. “There are no specifics for a huge amount of money.” MLTPA President and CEO John Wentworth was in attendance to argue the merits of an application he described as using “placeholder” language. “No cash is needed now,” he said of the $300,000. “But if the town isn’t willing to make this commitment, then the partnership with the Forest Service won’t exist.”
Commissioner Stehlik agreed with Commissioner Agnitch’s critique, saying, “It’s a strange position to be in, arguing about something we know nothing about.” But, she added, “the commitment I’m willing to make is to submit the application so we actually have the information.” The Commission approved supporting the MLTPA contract services application 3-1.
Due to Stehlik’s earlier comments about the intent of the meeting, the Commission meeting concluded not with a prioritized list, but with a narrowed-down list of town applications (from 10 projects to seven) to come forward to be considered for eligibility for the $305,000 Measure R funding.
The Measure R application process for the public will open Oct. 24 and close Nov. 28.