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Low hanging fruit

March 30, 2014

Low hanging fruit

We’ll be honest.
We don’t know Mammoth’s new town manager, Dan Holler, all that well yet.
He has only been here a few months, after all.
But there is a cool wind blowing through the town these days, a hint of welcome change, and we think it might have something, though certainly not everything, to do with Holler.
It’s not about Holler’s personality, character, or management style, although those all seem fine enough.
It’s something else.
We really noticed it a few weeks ago when Holler stood before a pile of various commissioners, task force members, and other semi-public hard-working Mammothites and called getting a new recreation center, a new performing arts center, and a permanent outdoor recreation center within three to five years “low hanging fruit.”
Low hanging fruit? We’ve called these facilities anything but “low hanging fruit.” In our mind, they loomed like a promised land we would never actually reach.
After listening to how these things can happen, however, we don’t think Holler’s overreaching or promising something impossible.
He backed his claims with numbers, and he has done things like this before, not least back in Douglas County, Nevada where he was instrumental in bringing the Kahle Community Recreation Center off of S.R. 50 from plan to reality.
We don’t think Holler is the problem.
It’s us.
We call it the “scarcity mode,” this feeling that pervades Mammoth these days. We’ve been hunkered down as a town for more than half a decade now, scarred by the recession, by the unreal boom and then horrendous fall of real estate prices, by a series of lost legal challenges of which the Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition loss was just the latest and most expensive.
Not to mention a group of flat-footed Town council members, who have just been around too long.
We have, it seems, forgotten what we can do, lost so long in what we cannot.
But Holler isn’t part of this gestalt of “can’t.”
He wasn’t here for any of it and he probably doesn’t care much about it, anyhow.
Instead, he’s fresh in from another job in another place, with no investment in our fears.
We sat down with him the other day and watched him click into Google Earth, then start moving a 15,000-square foot block of property—approximately the size of the footprint of a recreation center—around our digital town, plopping it down first right on top of the old tennis courts at the community center, then into the bell shaped parcel, then over to Mammoth Creek Park, reeling off the pros and cons of how, when, where, and why—like a kid playing with Legos.
His enthusiasm was palpable, his attention to detail sharp.
“I want to take this from talking about it to on the ground,” he said. “There is no reason we cannot. We have the resources to do this.”
And he’s absolutely right. With money specifically set aside for recreation and arts from Measures U and R, our town has a steady funding mechanism that other municipalities only dream about.
It’s time to leave the past behind and do our part in this; listen with an open, fearless mind. Let Holler prove what he says is possible can be done, yes, but the key is "let" him prove it.
We’ve been whining and complaining about not having these facilities for so long, it’s time to finalize a plan and move it forward.
Otherwise, we’ll be stuck in this rut for another decade.

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