We have to stop meeting like this … 8:30 at night, well past deadline, here alone at the office and without filter. And really, without notes. But with beer. Thank you, Spike.
I wonder if Brent Truax and Jennifer Burrows are sitting around this week wondering whether they should have sat down and drawn straws pre-election to decide which one should run and which one should sit out. They canceled each other out in Mammoth’s Council race in much the same way that the Dermocrats canceled themselves out in the U.S. House race in our 8th District.
Because of the shooting event on Hillside yesterday, I had the newbie Miczulski stay on-scene and I attended the first part of Mammoth’s Council meeting.
*By the way, not a misprint on the masthead. The new writers are indeed Jack and Zac.
The most interesting discussion at Council involved the vote for TBID (Tourism Business Improvement District) renewal.
It’s hard to argue the effectiveness of Mammoth Lakes Tourism’s marketing program over the past five years. As Executive Director John Urdi pointed out, the baseline T.O.T. (Transient Occupancy tax) number has increased from an average of about $10 or $11 million to approximately $18 million. “This winter was not the best snow year, but we still had the results,” he said.
Urdi said 33 of the 40-largest grossing businesses in town support the TBID. Out of 87 total businesses subject to the tax, he said there are approximately 12 who’ve expressed some negative comment.
Yet, there is unease in the community about the TBID. Not about it’s existence so much as how the money is spent.
Councilman Colin Fernie (and damn, he’s really growing into the role at the precise moment he’s stepping off Council. It’s kinda depressing) talked about how the TBID, when it was initially established, had a sole and chief focus of simply bringing people here – the idea being to grow the community out of a skirted bankruptcy. But now, he says, we have to be nimble enough to look at things as a community and establish a “push-pull” mindset. Maybe circumstances have changed to the point, he suggests, where building infrastructure to support the increased tourism is just as important as the sheer drive to get people through the Tenney Portal (Welcome Signs).
As Brandon Brocia so deftly put it, “You don’t just put the flyers out there … you gotta paint the trim.”
Lynn Altieri-Need again expressed a desire to revisit how TBID dollars are allocated. She would like to see more dollars dedicated to tourism infrastructure. “It’s about allocation,” she said. “It’s not that we don’t have the funds.”
MLT Board members John Morris and Sean Turner both said their Board wishes to collaborate/be in alignment with the community. Turner said frankly, “As a Board member, I want public dialogue as to how TBID dollars are spent.”
While Mayor Pro-Tem Cleland Hoff wanted Council to postpone how TBID dollars are spent.”
While Mayor Pro-Tem Cleland Hoff wanted Council to postpone renewal of the TBID until the new Council is seated, Councilman Bill Sauser pointed out that while Council may not have direct control over how TBID money is spent, it certainly has leverage, as the Town provides a significant amount of additional dollars to Mammoth Lakes Tourism that, while promised to MLT, is ultimately discretionary.
As Mayor John Wentworth said, it may be time for the Town to tackle some of its “over-tourism” challenges in order to strike the right balance.
I did not know Gail Frampton well. Perhaps I met him a few times. But I do know enough to know that a local legend has passed on to the other side.
I spoke to a few people about him this evening once I heard the news of his death.
Alterra Resorts CEO Rusty Gregory made a special point to call. He had this to say:
“Gail was a very special guy. What he did, his real talent, was in bringing people together. Mammoth was as idiosyncratic and opinionated then, even more so, than it is now. And he just had a gift. What we have managed to get done in town (development-wise) in large measure is owed to Gail.”
From Greg Newbry:
“I ran into Manny Bravo today, and I asked him if he’d heard about Gail. The news really affected him. When Manny was in the hospital, Gail made it a point to come see him. Gail remembered the people who helped him.
Besides being one of the kindest, gentlest, wisest men I’ve ever known, Gail did a lot of work to retain open space, ensure good design … he would come to Council meetings, and no matter how contentious they were, Gail could word things in such a cadence that he could get people to listen.
And he never talked down to people.”
From David Baumwohl:
“I’ve known Gail since I moved to town in 1980 … He was generous to me when I was young. He and Tom Dempsey entrusted a lot of work to me and really helped my career. I owe a lot to them.
He respectfully managed Snowcreek Meadow. He built the Athletic Club, which was never a money maker. He donated the land for the Catholic Church and the Rectory …
A lot of people, they donate $500 to a cause and they want a picture in the paper for it. Tom Dempsey and Gail Frampton never needed the accolades for the things they did. That’s not why they did them. These were truly men who gave back to the community.”
So if you think you’re a local, think again. The news of Gail Frampton’s passing simply revealed one more connection that I wasn’t familiar with – that Darcy Bauer is his daughter.
The refurbished Mammoth Community Tennis Courts open this weekend. If you head out there, and you’re lucky, perhaps there’ll be a Great Scatolini sighting.