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Airport terminal annex opens

December 16, 2011

Just in the St. Nick of time, the Mammoth-Yosemite Airport opened its passenger annex Thursday.

The tent-like structure, similar to the Eagle Lodge structure, is officially a “temporary” building, but then so was Eagle Lodge, and it’s still there.

It was built by Sprung Structures, the Utah company that provided the buildings at Eagle Lodge. It is a tension membrane structure. The building itself has become known as, simply, “The Sprung Structure.”

Therein lies a problem.

Although it has a restroom, a bar, an emergency exit and most of the accoutrements associated with air travel, it has no name.

“Welcome to the building, if that’s what this is, that doesn’t have a name,” said Mayor Jo Bacon at the terminal’s ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday afternoon.

Recreation director Stuart Brown, who welcomed about 80 guests to the event, gave a run-down of everything anybody needed to know:

“There’s the restroom, there’s the bar and there are the two doors,” he said. “That’s about it!”

But of course there is more than just that.

Tourism chieftain John Urdi explained how the terminal’s flight information screen is an Internet-connected display that will inform passengers and those waiting for passengers the flight status of incoming and outgoing air traffic.

Also, he said, display screens will offer photographs and information about Mammoth in the summer months.

The building is not actually attached to the main terminal building. It is situated just steps away, but it will require visitors to step outside to get to the main gates.The Airport Commission and the Planning Commission approved the annex.

The exterior is a brownish color, meant to blend with the surrounding landscape.

The need for the annex was obvious. With expanded air service from San Francisco, Orange County and San Diego, the main terminal simply wasn’t going to be big enough.

Even last season, the terminal became crowded, particularly during snowstorms that affected the timing of the flights.

Plans are underway to build a new terminal, but construction of any such building is several years away, at best, town officials said.

The annex, meanwhile, needs a name.

Mammoth Mountain executive Pam Murphy, a longtime member of the Airport Commission, suggested “The West Wing,” even though the building actually is north-northeast from the main terminal. But it’s west of something.

“The White Wing” also came up in conversations with members of the cognoscenti, as did a host of other names.

“Manning Way” would refer to airport manager Bill Manning. The name McCoy, in variations, came up, for obvious reasons.

Finally, somebody suggested “Murphy’s Landing,” in reference to Ms. Murphy and to the Ski Area.

“That sounds like a great name for a bar,” said a member of the town’s Community Development department, “which is where I’d like to be right about now.”

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