Mammoth Lakes Town Council unanimously approved the Final Main Street Plan on Feb. 19, following a one-hour workshop conducted by Boulder-based urban design and planning studio Winter & Company.
The Final Plan aims to transform Main Street into a ‘grand avenue,’ with parallel parking; new pedestrian and bicycle lanes; a landscaped median; and businesses moved up to the street, eliminating existing frontage roads to create new development opportunities.
The planning process took place over 12 months, with a series of public workshops in April. The Draft Plan came before the public in October of last year. The Draft Plan estimated the total cost for construction at about $18.2 million.
“I’ve heard a lot of concern about, can we really do it?” said Noré Winter of Winter & Co. He argued that such a project was possible, if completed in phases using financing from the private sector as well as public grants.
Winter identified immediate actions that the Town could pursue, such as creating new snow management and parking districts; installing landscape medians, new intersection and pedestrian controls; and adding new signage to the Main Street corridor.
Another priority: improve parking.
“Parking is an investment that stimulates other development,” said Dennis Burns of Kimley-Horn, a partner on the project. Burns did note that parking in Mammoth would cost about $20,000 per above-ground parking space, and $35,000 per underground parking space.
Burns said the team would be estimating the different costs of parking development, as well as exploring feasibility through funding tools, before its next appearance at Town Council.
Local Andy Ott questioned whether moving the existing Southern California Edison utility poles underground was part of the Final Plan. Ott argued that if the Town was looking for quick wins, extending that underground utility cable another 550 feet, rather than keeping five poles above the street, would be a good place to start.
“After you spend $18 million, I’d hate to still see five ugly utility poles on Main Street,” he said.
Meanwhile Paul Rudder remained skeptical of the Plan. He observed, “This plan requires us to do better on (occupancy rates) before there’ll even be money to adopt it,” he said; “before the private side can invest in the improvements that this project wants to bring about.”
Although Winter had stated in the workshop that he knew of businesspeople eager to invest in Main Street, Rudder disagreed. “I think that’s pie in the sky,” he said. “The occupancy rates tell the story. This plan is for 20 years from now.”
Council accepted the Final Plan 5-0.