Town of Mammoth/MMSA plot ways to be ready for next market rush
During a regular meeting of the Town of Mammoth/Mammoth Mountain liaison committee on Wednesday, MMSA CEO Rusty Gregory explained that MMSA had secured the lease for the City of LA’s Camp High Sierra, situated near the base of Eagle Lodge.
“MMSA is now the operator of this great piece of land that is perfect for beginners,” Gregory said. “It will be the best beginner terrain in the country at the bottom of a lift.”
The acquisition of the lease is part of the ski area’s future plans for a base facility at Eagle Lodge catering to kids. Gregory used the development plans as an example of things currently going on behind the scenes to prepare for the day when the market comes rushing back to Mammoth.
“We need to have things in place or it’s going to run away with [sic] us again,” Gregory advised. “Capital will find investments in Mammoth one way or another, but we only have one more crack at this because there’s not much land left. If we get it wrong we could be coined the strip mall forever.”
He and Mayor Rick Wood, Interim Town Manager Dan Holler, Mayor Pro Tem Jo Bacon, Police Chief Dan Watson, MMSA CAO Ron Cohen and others in attendance discussed the need to once and for all put building volumetrics in place and have them codified.
“Height and density are going to come back,” Wood said. And sooner rather than later; a project going before the Town Planning and Economic Development Commission on Nov. 13 will be asking for height and density variances.
“Have the arguments, put it in the plan, and stick with it,” Gregory advised.
Developer Impact Fees (DIF) are also being reviewed by the Town again, Holler said.
“The fees are too high,” Holler said. “Everything but the kitchen sink was thrown in there before. We need to find a happy medium.”
He anticipated the review to take about six months.
“DIF is the stupidest way to fund a project,” said Gregory of the one-time fees. He suggested bonds with long-term payments.
Holler agreed to some degree. “DIF is a good tool, but not THE tool.”
Wood admitted that in the past the Town Council “thought we could charge anything and the development community would build it. It turns out that wasn’t the case.”
We have to ask ourselves why other areas have great development and we don’t,” Gregory said. “We have to work together.”
In that regard, Holler has been speaking with Mike Vance, former Community Development Director for Mammoth who then returned to Whistler where he served as Community Development Director until 2012. He is now a private consultant.
Holler plans to visit Vance in Whistler to discuss the development of good infrastructure. Gregory was in favor of this effort, pointing out, “It’s good to bring someone in with urban experience in an environmentally sensitive area.”
Talk then moved to MMSA’s land exchange at the Main Lodge.
“It needs to happen sooner rather than later before the thing falls down,” Gregory said in reference to the Main Lodge. “Things are going well with the June Lake community and things are getting turned around and back on track,” he said, referring to the nexus that had been drawn between the land trade and the reopening of June Mountain, which he still maintained he never believed was connected in any way.
“We’ve been talking with Congressman Paul Cook and I believe he is close to pushing it [land trade bill] to the House Committee,” Gregory said.
Cook had put a hold on the bill until the concerns of the June Lake community had been addressed.
“We’re going to Washington D.C. next week to continue to patch things up,” Gregory said.