The June Lake Citizens Advisory Committee met on Wednesday, December 4, to discuss, among other items, broken promises made by Alterra Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory.
The issue goes all the way back to 2012 when MMSA (Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, which at the time was comprised of Mammoth and June Mountain Ski Areas) was underperforming expectations. Gregory, at the time, claimed he shut down June Mountain due to lack of marketing efforts after the California drought; MMSA hadn’t made it obvious enough to potential tourists that the mountain had snow again, so they shut it down.
At a Mono County Board of Supervisors meeting in April 2013, Gregory discussed his future intentions for June Mountain. The following is Gregory’s three point plan for June Mountain according to a Sheet article published on April 12, 2013:
“Point One — to reopen June Mountain this summer for group events (such as weddings and the June Lake Triathlon dinner) and then reopen the mountain for winter at its normal time in December, seven days a week. Gregory said the reopening would begin the reposition of June Mountain as an entry-level resort for families.
Point Two — Install snowmaking and a new lift up the face of June Mountain to the tune of $5 million and $6 million, respectively. Gregory explained that he hoped to have these items in place by the 2015/16 winter season.
Point Three — Community development planning to create a local economy in June Lake. Gregory said June Lake needs 1,000 additional rooms (or 2,000 beds) to be able to put enough people in June to stay awhile.”
Jamie Schectman, of the June Lake Chamber of Commerce, introduced the June Mountain agenda item and explained why the issue is so important to the economy of June Lake, “Last year, when the mountain closed two weeks before Easter on April 7, my business declined 66% the following week.”
Schectman told how in 2012, Mammoth Mountain was in the process of a land exchange negotiation with the Forest Service for the Main Lodge area at MMSA. Representatives of June Lake complained that the Mountain was not a viable community member and therefore should not receive the perks of the land exchange.
The Mountain was not reliable because it was expanding its operation in Mammoth while it shut down an operation in June.
The citizen-pressure led to the Gregory promises meant to assuage them.
They wanted assurance for these promises and the same Sheet article reads, “What will we see to convince us you’re committed to June?” asked Kirk Maes. “Nothing I can say today will earn your trust,” Gregory said. “And I’m not asking for it today. We’ll have to perform actions to earn trust.”
Gregory’s comments have not aged well.
John DeCoster, Chairman of the June Lake Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC), told the audience, including Supervisor Bob Gardner, “We want the Board of Supervisors to be aware that commitments were made and we haven’t seen any progress.”
Gardner, who said he was only speaking for himself, responded, “This is an opportunity to try and establish some accountability. We’d like to see a little more love from Alterra for June.”
One member of the audience asked, “What mechanism does the County have to hold the Mountain responsible.”
Two people whispered, “Nothing,” as they chuckled.
But Gardner fielded the question, “Legally, that is a good question. We can use publicity to try and apply some pressure. We can ask the question, ‘It’s been 6-7 years, so where are we?’”
The agenda item was for discussion only so the conversation ultimately flamed out with no action taken. It will likely be on the next CAC agenda as an action item with a letter to the Mountain and the Board of Supervisors as possible direction from the Committee.
Despite the contention, DeCoster summarized the community’s desire, “We are not trying to start a battle. We are just trying to put pressure (on the mountain) to say ‘hey don’t forget about us, the little guy.”