At Johnny Goetz’s farewell party last Saturday afternoon, I ran into Mr. Wood Site himself, Sam Walker. We got to talking about the ongoing Events Feasibility study I wrote about last week. The Town has hired a consultant to help determine what type of event facilities should be built, and where.
Correction: I was informed by the Town’s Recreation Manager Stu Brown last Friday that although $60,000 was budgeted for the study, the final contract for a more limited scope of service was for $23,000 plus $5,000 in travel expenses.
I asked Sam if the consultant, Tom Hazinski of HVS, had spoken to him, the owner of the most popular event venue site in Mammoth. Nope.
Sam added that in hiring a consultant, the Town should really be looking at someone who has actually planned events, not someone with a theoretical vision of how many/what type buildings we should have.
Analogy being, the Town should hire a doctor, or at least someone who’s performed a few operations, not just someone who’s played a doctor on television.
Walker also said that in site consideration, wind isn’t just one of many factors to consider. Wind, he said, is a disqualifying factor in and of itself, especially in a place which hosts so many outdoor summer events.
On a whim, I then called Sandra DiDomizio, owner of Green Fox Events, who has been an event planner in the Eastern Sierra for a decade. Surely, Hazinski called her as part of his due diligence. Nope.
DiDomizio was, according to the Mammoth Lakes Foundation’s Juliana Olinka, invited to a meeting between Hazinski and members of the MLEC (Mammoth Lakes Events Coalition) but could not attend. She later submitted comments in response to the PowerPoint presentation made by Hazinski a few weeks ago.
*Hmm. I guess by limiting “the scope” of the contract, that must have involved a conversion to a more limited service plan which didn’t afford Hazinski the opportunity to reach Sandra by telephone.
DiDomizio wrote, “This PPT doesn’t emphasize enough the need for more wedding and large meeting venues. The concert/conference space analysis sounds good, but those venues are too big and not appropriate for wedding and large group events (i.e. receptions, dinners, special functions). We desperately need one that can accommodate up to 400. Something like a big barn with a full caterer’s kitchen, restrooms, sound/light, parking, in a nice open space with amazing views. Currently, the largest space available is Canyon or McCoy station, and those don’t always work for clients, especially those that want to bring in their own caterers. There are up to 7 weddings a weekend in this area and with our current venues, Mammoth only attracts low to mid-budget couples because our current venues and services, I think, don’t meet the needs of high-budget, high need clients.
“For example, I am about to lose one big corporate client who has been coming to Mammoth annually because their group size will soon exceed 300. And I have lost 2 wedding clients recently because none of our venues met their needs. These are big losses for the town.”
DiDomizio’s comments clearly illustrate that she understands the market and where opportunities for business growth lie.
Look, I understand the arguments people make about wanting to hire dispassionate outsiders who don’t have personal or business conflicts. On the flip side, as Tom Cage said the other day, “I’m tired of paying people that come to town as consultants and ask to borrow our watches so they can tell us what time it is.”
But maybe the larger question is, “Why the hell are we hiring a consultant to study an issue just so he’ll make a recommendation we can’t possibly afford?” We’re in no position to build an entertainment complex, even if the land is donated. And we’re certainly in no position to buy Sam’s Wood Site.
So if the consultant is a complete waste of time and resources, the least we could do is outsource one locally. That way, the money at least recirculates.
The whole thing is so 2003, getting excited listening to a consultant toss around ideas for a $20 million recreation center. But as I sit in the recreation center this afternoon, using the free wifi, I can’t help but marvel at the Town’s foresight in building such a beautiful structure. I suppose it’s about time to head out and pick up my daughter at the neighboring library and then we’ll stop at Trader Joe’s on the way home.
A few thoughts on the “Choose Civility” initiative being pushed by the Mono Office of Education. Does this mean we’re teaching our kids to be docile and not speak up when they disagree with something, because voicing strong disagreement is just so … uncomfortable. If we had chosen civility 100 years ago, would we have chosen women’s suffrage, civil rights, gay rights? Choosing Civility seems like it could amount to reverse bullying of the nonconformist.
In his essay on “Civil Disobedience,” Thoreau wrote, “That government is best which governs least.” So stop governing behavior. Better yet, start teaching Thoreau.