Rec Commission makes its case for doling out $620,000 in fun funds

The Mammoth Lakes Recreation Commission has spoken, for better or for worse.

Unless the town council contradicts the commission’s recommendations – finalized last Tuesday – the winners and losers in $620,000 worth of Measure R recreation moolah is in the books.

The winners: Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation (MLTPA), the High Sierra Striders’ track project, a gymnastics/tumbling program owned and managed by the Town, and Trails End Park and Little Brothers Skate Park.

The losers: Mammoth Nordic Foundation, the Whitmore Pool rehab project and the Community Center tennis courts.

Measure R funds, distributed in both a fall and spring cycle, are a result of a tax measure passed by Mammoth Lakes voters in 2008. The funds are intended to create more recreation opportunities in Mammoth.

Two weeks ago, the Recreation Commission interpreted the ordinance as one that would create new recreation initiatives, but not supplant existing facilities, such as the Whitmore Pool and the tennis courts.
The funds to rebuild or supplant facilities would come from the town’s general fund, and not from revenue generated by Measure R.

The Recreation Commission’s recommendations now will go to the town council, which will conduct a workshop with commission members on Dec. 1, then vote that evening at its regularly scheduled Wednesday night meeting.

But the big meeting was last Tuesday, when the commission went through an exhaustive checklist, adjusting and tweaking its recommendations, applicant by applicant.

The lion’s share went to MLTPA, which asked for $246,520 in fall cycle funding and received $200,000, with the remaining $46,000 in the request to be disbursed in the spring cycle.

The up-and-coming Striders, meanwhile, requested $510,180 and received $300,000 for their track project, with a promise of $75,000 more in the spring cycle.

Mammoth’s recent infatuation with winter biathlon also was reflected in the funding recommendations. The biathlon asked for and received $6,000, plus an additional $984 for a biathlon rifle storage facility.

Meanwhile, $53,000 in Measure R cash was awarded for the completion of Trails End Park and the construction of Little Brothers Skate Park.

Mammoth Nordic, on the other hand, asked for $355,444 but received just $5,440. In this case, the Recreation Commission recommended that it form a committee to see if Brian Knox’s crew can integrate with MLTPA.

As for tennis, the Town asked for $250,000 and got nothing, which was no judgment on tennis, but, rather, went against the grain of the policy decision regarding “new” versus “supplanting” existing facilities.

Similarly, the Town requested $430,000 for a multi-use facility and ice rink slab, but got zippo. The Town also requested $110,000 for a modernization and completion project at the Whitmore pool but got nothing.

In all, 14 applicants collectively requested $2,218,763. Although reaction was heated, no one’s talking until the commission’s recommendations come before council.