Lower priced events site feasibility study paraded before Rec Commission
A Town Measure R application to fund a special events site feasibility study came before the Mammoth Lakes Recreation Commission for a second time on Nov. 17.
In October, the Commission met with Town staff to prioritize and narrow down a list of 10 applications for Measure R funding. One of the more controversial applications was a proposed $60,000 events site feasibility study. At the October meeting, commissioners indicated that the application might be viable if staff could slash the price.
Senior Planner Ellen Clark was on hand at last week’s meeting to present the Commission with a new figure and scope: $25,000 for necessary technical studies, such as biological and cultural resources assessments, that could potentially precede a full-blown feasibility study.
“The [new] study’s intent will be to determine the parameters and constraints of event sites,” Clark explained. The study would take into account Forest Service permits, access roads, distance from town, and physical factors like grading and vegetation removal. The intent, said Clark, would be to select “one to two sites more favorable than others” for future development.
Commissioners were happy to hear the price reduction, but expressed concern that the new study would still merely precede a more expensive one. Vice-Chair Tony Colasardo wondered whether a special events site study should qualify for Measure R funding at all.
“Unfortunately, when I look at this, I think we’re really talking about an events center,” he said, “and that’s really a Measure U issue.”
Commissioner Sean Turner, a member of the Mammoth Lakes Events Coalition (MLEC) and participant in the Economic Stimulus Council (ESC), which have both addressed new special events venues, pointed out that “events are the number 2 identified item in RecStrats (The Town’s Recreation Strategy Document).”
The Commission’s greatest concern was that, without a technical or feasibility study, potential special events venues would be pushed for selection and development out of private interests. Chair Bill Sauser cited the ESC’s preference for a venue at Mammoth Creek Park, a sore point with the Recreation Commission.
“My fear is that Mammoth Creek East has taken on a life of its own and is getting pushed by persons unknown whether it’s the best site or not,” he said.
Commissioner Teri Stehlik added, “My concern is that people who are advocating for [particular sites] right now all have their own agendas, and aren’t looking at the whole picture. We don’t want to end up with another ice rink.”
Because the initiative for the special events study has largely come from the ESC and MLEC, Clark and commissioners agreed that both should be included in the process for site selection. “It’s important to reach some consensus and narrow the options,” Clark said. To that end, the ESC and MLEC have already tentatively agreed to meet on Dec. 15 at 1 p.m., to identify event program needs, sites that should be considered, and evaluation criteria. The Special Events Venue Study Scope Staff Report stated that this joint meeting “will be an effective way to ensure continuity of previous information developed by each group, and ensure ongoing representation from respective Town Council, Recreation and Planning Commission members.”
“We are under a time crunch,” Commissioner Turner acknowledged at the close of the discussion. “Nine months out, and Bluesapalooza has already sold 5% of its tickets.” Where this and other events will move if Sam’s Wood Site sells is unclear.
“I think this does fall more under Measure U,” Stehlik said, “but you’re welcome to bring it forward.”
Should the study gain Measure R funding, Clark indicated that technical site studies would proceed after snow-melt in April/May 2012. The Measure R application process closes Nov. 28.