Some members of the June Lake community aren’t impressed with Mammoth Mountain Ski Area’s gesture of inviting them along on a peer resort tour scheduled for the end of this month. These June Lake villagers feel that the money being spent on the trip should be saved and directed elsewhere.
“It’s tough to make June Mountain family-friendly with Chair 1 [J1] the way it is,” said Michael Bogash of June Lake.
“MMSA should spend time with the community rather then go visit other resorts,” said resident, Alice Suszynski.
A J1 replacement, as well as more marketing of June Mountain is what these residents believe would really benefit the ski area.
With one of the major redevelopment ideas on the table being to turn June Mountain into a destination for young families, Suszynski feels that replacing J1 would help to make that transition.
“J1 is intimidating to kids and small families,” she said of the steep chairlift ride one must take to get to the base lodge and other lifts at June. “It needs to be replaced by a gondola or another easier way up. We’ve identified that from the very beginning.”
However, Suszynski said that in a recent meeting with June Mountain General Manager Carl Williams, community members were told that J1 would not be replaced next year and no more capital would be thrown at the ski area.
In Bogash’s opinion, an even bigger issue is getting MMSA to market June Mountain.
“If June was marketed at all, we would be a successful mountain,” Bogash said. Bogash said he has skied at Mammoth a few days this season and each time he time he rode a chairlift he told the other people on it to make sure to come ski June next year.
“Ninety percent of the people I spoke with said, ‘What’s June?’”
Bogash believed that people would prefer June Mountain if they knew about it. Bogash also said that MMSA has a $500,000 budget to market June each year.
“There is a deep-seated mistrust of MMSA,” Bogash continued. “Rusty Gregory has no concern for morals or ethics. They just want proper entitlement to the Rodeo Grounds.”
The best thing Rusty Gregory could do for June Mountain is to sell it,” said June Lake resident Don Morton. “MMSA will never create a competitive resort at June. I don’t see much good in going [on the peer resort tour] and being tricked into being a cheerleader.”
According to a document disseminated by Williams, the purpose of the peer resort tour is to determine how to re-position June Mountain to “cater to a specific niche in the market, a market that is currently underserved,” namely young families.
“The ultimate goal we believe is to act as a feeder area to introduce new people to the mountains.
“The resorts [on the tour], like Mammoth and June, are primarily drive-to markets relying on weekend/holiday period visitors for the majority of their business.”
The tour will visit Bromley Mountain, Smuggler’s Notch, Waterville Valley and Okemo Mountain ski areas. MMSA will pay for food, lodging and travel once back east for anyone wanting to attend. The only item that attendees are responsible for is their airfare, which some believe at approximately $1,000 if booked through the Mountain’s travel agency of choice, is still too much.
Some community members do plan to attend including Double Eagle owner Ralph Lockhart, Boulder Lodge owners Rick and Jessalyn McCoy, and Keith Potter, a sales rep for Nordica who lives in June Lake.
“My opinion is that we should go and see what MMSA’s ideas are before passing judgment,” Lockhart said.
“It’s worth a shot,” added Rick McCoy. “It will be good to see what other areas are doing to remain profitable. I think we can learn something. We appreciate the mountain [MMSA] at least trying this.”
Bogash, Suszynski and others are turning their attention toward opposing Mammoth Mountain Ski Area’s land trade with the US Forest Service with a letter-writing campaign.
“Our only leverage to get MMSA’s attention is to fight the land trade on the basis that they are poor stewards of public land,” Bogash said. “We don’t want to go to Vermont, but we’ll go to Washington [D.C.],”