Did you hear it?
Did you hear the gun go off?
Well, it was the proverbial ‘starting gun,’ so it may have been hard to hear. But it did go off, and the race has started; we are striding forward on our way to the ‘bell lap,’ ready to sprint for the finish line.
What the heck am I talking about?
On December 8, 2011, the Mono County Planning Commission granted a ‘use permit’ for the Mammoth Track Project – a project championed by the High Sierra Striders to enhance the recreation complex at Whitmore by adding a high-performance running track and synthetic turf infield project to the park’s facilities.
*For those unfamiliar with the Whitmore Park complex, it is located right off the intersection of Highway 395 and Benton Crossing Road at the south end of the airport runway.
The use permit was the last administrative “hurdle” that we needed to cross to race toward the finish line, which will be putting a shovel in the ground to start construction of these new facilities. The start of construction could happen in May (this Spring!) and finish in just 3-4 months. We could enjoy the new track and field in August with your help.
High Sierra Striders has been aggressively fundraising for several years and we’re very, very close to our goal. Just a little bit more is needed to fully fund the first phase of construction that includes the running track and synthetic field. We need your help to close the gap!
In countless ways, the Mammoth Track Project will benefit all of the Eastern Sierra and our residents, as well as visitors from all over the world. Locally, enhancing our recreation park at Whitmore will provide an array of outdoor, and even business, opportunities.
Beyond our family of communities, Mammoth will welcome world-class athletes to join those already making a home and training headquarters here. The Mammoth Track Project will be the first significant step towards establishing Mammoth as the premier high-altitude training center for a multitude of sports. For runners, it’s the missing component for those searching for the perfect headquarters for high-altitude training for athletes of all levels. For soccer enthusiasts, it’s the perfectly level and consistent, regulation-sized pitch that will open the door to tournament play and much more.
But you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy it or benefit from it; there will be plenty of new opportunities on and off the track and field! Whether as a professional athlete, a recreation enthusiastic or someone who just loves being outdoors, our beautiful high-altitude environment is an unrivaled resource for us to enjoy and share with others.
You can help make it happen NOW. The sooner you donate, the sooner we build!
You can find out about donating to the project at MammothTrackProject.org. You can choose to see your name on a paver stone on the walkway leading to the track or you might want to claim a fence post as your own! You could have your own lane at the new track! Visit our website or you may also call me at 760.709.2159 and we will make sure your donation is exactly as you wish it to be.
The race has started … join us at the finish line this Spring.
Elaine Smith, Board Member
High Sierra Striders
An emerging solution?
It appears that the beginnings of a solution may be at hand, after discussion and comments from the public at the last two Recreation Commission meetings about the Trails Measure R application. The so-called Town application, written by MLTPA (Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access), was the subject of that discussion. Several in the audience questioned why this 352-page application had been submitted; as it had a zero request for fall 2011, but asked for $300,000 in the spring and that amount per year for the next 5 years, totaling $1.5 million. The document is posted on the Town’s website, under Recreation/Measure R applications. A Town staff and Recreation Commission subcommittee met before the latest Commission meeting, and presented a proposal to withdraw the application, examine it carefully, and restructure it appropriately.
Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht and Recreation Commissioner Chair Bill Sauser noted that now that the Trails System Master Plan has been adopted, it is appropriate to have the Town take over those parts of the proposal that have always been done by the Town, such as trails design, engineering, and contracting. The majority of the existing Town paved paths were funded by grants obtained by the Town, and Public Works Director Ray Jarvis also noted that perhaps other elements of the application might be put out for bid, allowing other qualified contractors to compete. The MLTPA Board’s website reply to my last letter notes that it would have no objection to this.
In my opinion, these actions may help eliminate what has seemed to be a case of the “tail wagging the dog,” with the appearance that MLTPA was setting priorities rather than the Town. While the details of whatever changes to be made are still under consideration, I think that we are headed in the right direction to address issues that the community has expressed concerns about.
Other public comments noted that any proposal should be one year at a time, and some in the commission also expressed doubts about a multi-year commitment, especially in light of the Town’s uncertain fiscal future with the MLLA (airport litigation) settlement. It appears that the MLTS (Mammoth Lakes Trails System) Coordinating Committee may be the body to take on the restructuring of the application, so stay tuned!
MLTPA has done a great job of making the public aware of our trail system and how we can improve it, and continues to play an important role. However, design, engineering and construction of trails must be done by professionals having the demonstrated ability and credentials to do these tasks. Allowing other contractors to bid for various other project elements of the application makes good sense. I look forward to seeing the on-the-ground improvements.