Mammoth Council believes name change for MUF will change outcome
Nominative determinism is a theory which says that the name that you are given determines the path that your life will take.
Mammoth Lakes Town Council must consist of a group of nominative determinists, because at Wednesday night’s regular meeting, council decided to rename the Multi-Use Facility the “Rec Zone,” in the hopes that it would be the first step in a new direction for the proposed facility.
The name change was about the only thing that council could agree on regarding the project, and even that was shaky.
Councilman Kirk Stapp asked if it was, “Wreck with a W?”
Council was presented with three funding/design alternatives to consider:
A. $13 million budget for a “Rink and Roof,” to be expanded into a community center later. Located at Mammoth Creek Park West.
B. $10 million budget for a smaller facility at Mammoth Creek Park West. Will have reduced scope and programming from alternative A.
C. Unknown budget. Consider putting facility on the current site of the ice rink, on land owned by Mammoth Unified School District, through an extended lease.
Councilman Sauser was livid that these alternatives were even presented.
“Council gave direction on [pursuing] A a long time ago (Aug. 1st),” Sauser said, “How did B and C even get on here?”
“Over and over and over again we have put this out to input groups and focus groups, and here it is again… If this council wants to undo the work of previous councils then just stand up and say it,” Sauser said.
“Let’s not look at all the things we’ve looked at for 20 years.”
Town Manager Dan Holler responded by saying that he included alternatives B and C on the agenda because the town does not have the money for option A.
“It would not be good management for me to go to the council with a project that we do not have the funding for,” he said.
The town has about $9.1 million in funds allocated for the project, and another ~$2.9 million in additional unrestricted funds that could supplement it.
That still leaves the town a million short of the needed $13 million.
“Over two years we will find money for this,” Sauser said. “Housing is the priority, but it is not the only thing that General Fund money should be used for.”
Councilman John Wentworth also supported alternative A, but not just because of council’s past support for it.
“I looked at every one of these with an open mind,” Wentworth said. “It was relatively simple for me… It comes down to why we have recommending bodies. We have the Recreation Commission and MLR [Mammoth Lakes Recreation] for a reason.”
The Recreation Commission and MLR discussed these alternatives at their most recent meetings, and both groups decided that alternative A was their preference. MLR Executive director Matt McClain and Rec Commission Chair Betsy Truax both spoke at the meeting to explain their boards’ decisions.
Mayor Cleland Hoff, and council members Salcido and Stapp were not as quick to dismiss alternatives B and C.
“The location at the school makes sense,” Hoff said. “Kids can walk together to the library or the rink after school.”
“I would like to get information on keeping it where it is and putting a roof on it… An ice rink with a roof is my goal. The community center can come later,” Mayor Hoff said.
“That’s where I stand, and I am proud of it!”
Councilmember Lynda Salcido said that she is not quite an A or B person. “My non-non-negotiables are a big rink, a roof, restrooms, and a comfortable place to gather,” she said.
“I have a responsibility to be a good steward of town funds… I think that taking money from the general fund is a bad idea.”
“I cannot face the public unless I can fairly look at all the costs,” she said regarding the possibility of a lease with the school.
Councilman Stapp also showed some support for locating the Rec Zone on school property.
Town Engineer Grady Dutton said that the current ice rink is showing signs of wear, and may only last a few years longer.
“When we put the first layer of ice down and drive over it, we hit patches of concrete,” Dutton said. “The slab is uneven.” Dutton told council that an analysis of the school site alternative would take between 90-120 days to complete.
Councilman Wentworth proposed a two-part motion: part one was to look at the price difference of a full-sized facility between the Mammoth Creek Park site and the school site, and part two would ask the school board to vote on a lease agreement and terms.
Sauser was not happy with this.
“That’s not enough. We need a whole pro forma. How many more or less people will we expect at Mammoth Creek Park versus the school? We need a full profile on the income of both based on walkability, proximity to people, the snow removal contracts.”
Sauser did not agree with Stapp and Hoff that the school site would be better for kids. “More students live near Mammoth Creek Park than do near the school.”
Lynda Salcido said that asking the school to vote on a lease agreement with so little information was an unrealistic ask.
Local resident Sandy Hogan also became perturbed at Wentworth’s motion.
She said the town already made a similar offer to the school district years ago. “Look at the last time the town made a proposal for a lease, and the district’s response.”
Wentworth amended his agreement somewhat. The new first part is to approach the school district with lease terms that Dan Holler and Town Attorney Andrew Morris would craft, and the second part is to do an assessment of the current site with new concrete and a new chiller for the ice, etc.
The motion passed 4-1, with Sauser saying, “In respect of all that has been done over 20 years, No.”In order to appease Sauser, who feared that this motion would indicate that the town had abandoned option A, the Council then unanimously approved a motion to, “continue to comparatively consider option A.”