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The owner of Mammoth Outdoor Sports is set to produce a new event next month in the parking lot of the Sierra Center Mall, but town officials said it fell short of a slam-dunk.
The Dec. 14 to 15 event, to be called the ‘Old Mammoth Road Jam’ was presented to Mammoth’s Planning Commission Wednesday, and store owner Phillip Hertzog said it would add dazzle to a largely abandoned part of town.
“It’s a pre-season event, and it will allow us to showcase Mammoth,” Hertzog said.
He said a publicity blitz through San Diego and Los Angeles in the past two weekends indicated “some few hundred people, if we’re lucky,” would make a special trip to Mammoth to attend “our vacant mall here at Sierra Center, and animate the area.”
In addition, Hertzog said his group of Old Mammoth Road businesspeople would build a small “snow park” for kids in the vacant area next to the mall.
The Rail Jam is to be a two-day, Friday to Saturday event.
The project ran into trouble, however, when Hertzog introduced a pairing with an indoor event, to last more than two weeks, in which professional boarders and skiers could meet regular folks in a daily “Meet the Pros” ongoing event inside the mall itself.
His plan is to throw a 50-foot by 50-foot movie screen onto the east-facing wall of the mall, near the AT&T store, with Warren Miller-like movies in constant play from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. each day.
As for additional outdoor signs, Commissioner Elizabeth Tenney implied her problem was with Hertzog himself.
Hertzog went head-to-head with the Planning Commission last summer for what the commission said was ongoing violations of the town’s outdoor tent sales regulations.
“The last time you were here, talking about signs and banners, three more banners were draped over the monument sign at Sierra Center Mall,” Tenney said.
“When you disrespected us before, I really feel like you disrespected the community in the summer. While I support this event conceptually … I really do have some concerns.”
Businessman Tom Cage, owner of Kittredge Sports and P3, said his concerns about the event also were more of a personal nature.
“What we’ve got to realize, and the Planning Commission needs to take into account,” he said, “is the creditability of this applicant and the confidence you have in the execution of this event.
“We can complain about all the things that happened this summer by this applicant, but the reality is that it sounds like a neat event, to have a rail jam and the movies and create some animation for this area of town.
“But the Planning Commission and staff need to protect themselves. Because of the credibility of this applicant, the simplest way to protect yourself is to require the applicant put a sizeable deposit for any violations or any needs the town has to backfill, whether it’s law enforcement, a lack of insurance or whether it’s additional staff time to execute violations that might occur or to clean up parking lots.
“If you did that, I think you’d have a great event. If he’s serious about following the rules, he can make a deposit of $10,000 or $20,000 that can be refunded.”
Tony Colosardo, owner of Footloose Sports, also said he had qualms.
“The question I have is what the outside of the building would look like. How many banners will there be? Is the presentation going to look like a tent sale or just another event that is out of control?” Colosardo said.
“My concern is the image to the community. How are we going to present it so that it looks like a viable event and one that’s attractive in the community?”
In response, Hertzog said he would re-draft the original plan to make sure banners will not drape the outside of the mall during the holidays—by far Mammoth’s busiest time of the winter season.