County donates land for Gateway project

The land for the so-called Gateway project at the entrance of Mammoth Lakes will be donated to the Town of Mammoth Lakes by Mono County, the county’s five supervisors agreed Tuesday.

The Gateway project, a volunteer-supported, large, rock and wood sign, designed to give visitors entering Mammoth a sense of arrival, will be located on county land just off of both sides of S.R. 203 near the entrance to town, just east and across the highway from, the Mono County Courthouse.

The project has been spearheaded by longtime Mammoth local Elizabeth Tenney, who has secured a veritable army of architects, designers, laborers—and the raw materials—to create the project. Work on the project is expected to begin this summer. 

“We want to show the world that we are here and invested in our future,” Tenney said Tuesday. “That’s why this is important to do this now, despite all the bad press the town has been getting.”

On Sunday, the Mammoth Police Department and the Mammoth Fire District will conduct a “Chili Cook-Off” at The Bistro (Snowcreek) to raise funds for the effort.

The project has been in the works for about a year and a half.

The vote to donate about 5,000-square feet to the Town of Mammoth was unanimous, but the supervisors didn’t make the decision without strong assurances that the county would not end up maintaining the project in case the legal judgment against the Town sours further. Should the judgment against the town cause it to declare bankruptcy, or should Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition consider the land a Town asset, the supervisors said, it might be that they ended up with an unwanted burden.

The supervisors also wanted to be sure no other signs were put on the land. They noted, too, that they weren’t adverse to being give some credit for donating the land, say on a plaque in the park near the sign, something that Mammoth Lakes Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht said he was sure could be accomplished.

Mono County Counsel Marshall Rudolph reassured the supervisors that the terms of the land transfer and donation could be written to fully protect the county.

The project will consist of two, tall wood and slate signs in the Craftsman style, surrounded by landscaping and a small pocket park (on the courthouse side of the highway). The signs will read: “Going to the mountains is going home” (John Muir) as the driver exits town, and “The mountains are calling”  (John Muir) and “Mammoth Lakes” as the driver arrives.