But who got it? Answer: Mammoth Track runs away with top prize
If you’ve ever seen the movie “Dead Poets Society,” then you might recall a scene early in the picture in which Robin Williams’ English Literature class discusses the merits (or lack thereof) of coldly calculating the mathematical importance of a poem by using the Pritchard Scale.
The scale didn’t go over that well in the film, and a similar attempt at ranking the applicants didn’t work much better for the Mammoth Lakes’ Measure U Steering/Application Committee during its application evaluations on Monday.
Town Recreation Manager Stuart Brown said there was $653,215 in Measure U funding available, a little more than previously estimated, but still nowhere near enough to meet the $1.16 million in total requests submitted by the eight applicants.
In just under four hours, this is what the Committee decided:
A request for $15,000 from the Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce for ancillary street-side Fourth of July programming was deemed too vague and came away empty-handed.
Conversely, a request from the Town and the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority to augment transit service for many summer events received its full $24,000 request.
Other events were pegged for some portion of their original request amounts. The Mammoth Lakes Events Coalition’s Summer Arts & Culture request was deliberated in terms of how much micromanagement the Committee was inclined to exert on the band of 9 veteran and new projects. One thought was funding some, and not funding others, but that was countered by opinions that those decisions should be left to the MLEC group.
Ultimately it was decided that the funding would be recommended as an aggregate of the individual event rankings, and score sheets would be turned over to the MLEC for use in apportioning the funds to the various events. Also discussed but later abandoned was a concept for creating an oversight committee to monitor the MLEC’s decision making, in favor of a more straightforward Memorandum of Understanding with the group.
The ask? $88,600. The give: $59,215.
An ask from the Town for $127,000 in grant matches yielded only $20,000 in recommendations.
That was for a grant that came in after the Town’s budget had been completed.
Committee members John Wentworth, Rich Boccia and John Vereuck expressed concerns about supplanting, since Public Works’ Ray Jarvis said there is already grant match money in the Transportation budget.
In other words, the Town had already budgeted the grant match money but was hoping it could take whatever it could from U and then use the savings to backfill elsewhere – i.e. supplant.
The Mammoth Lakes Foundation’s request for $85,000 for the Repertory Theatre was reduced to $40,000, with $15,000 to be spent on improvements and the rest spent on hiring Artistic Director Shira Dubrovner full-time.
A $60,000 request for a Cultural & Sports Events Feasibility Study was knocked back to $30,000. Committee member Jim Smith said he sees the study as helping plan for building. Bill Taylor, however, indicated it takes a village. “A consultant can say your options are A, B and C, but without an involved, community-driven organization, it’s just a worthless piece of paper,” he opined.
Committee Chair Bill Sauser echoed that view somewhat, saying he’s “sick of seeing studies sitting on Town shelves,” though he did think that Measure U funding was at least appropriate for the study. Joyce Turner emphasized a pressing need for it, pointing out that the Town has several events locations (i.e. Sam’s Woodsite) that are in danger of being sold or otherwise lost as stable venues.
The Recreation Department got recommended for half of its $60,000 request to establish summer activities, such as skating programs, for the Multi-Use Facility, which in the winter serves as the Ice Rink.
And the Committee debated the High Sierra Striders’ Mammoth Track Project request for $523,000, nearly 90% of the total Measure U funding available. Most Committee members agreed that recommending full funding was a non-starter, and that the project has access to more financial outlets than do most of the other applicants. The rub between it being seen as a “game changer” for the area economy versus Town Council’s stated goal of return on investment sooner rather than later ultimately led to a modest reduction in recommended funding to $450,000.
The Town’s requests for the Multi-Use Facility and Feasibility Study, as well as the Whitmore Track Project are also eligible for Measure R funding. Town Council will take up the recommendations during its May 16 meeting.