Officials described their support of the non-profit organization called Mammoth Lakes Recreation as part of a continuation of long-discussed recreation issues in Mammoth. This time, many said, they think MLR will actually make better recreation facilities and projects happen. The Town Council voted unanimously to approve a funding scenario for MLR and continue with the transition of current functions into MLR.
Danna Stroud, Chair of the MLR Formation Committee, walked the Town Council through past steps that led up to Mammoth Lakes Recreation and plans to grow outside money sources and leadership for new recreation. She said past meetings concluded that Mammoth could gain more out of dollars, find new dollars and economic development through MLR.
Councilwoman Jo Bacon, who sits on the MLR committee, said the Town Attorney helped them determine how funds in Tax Measures R and U, which is about $1.8 million per year, could be used. She said part of Measure R can be used for the Town to contract with MLR. MLR can recommend uses for funds in Measures R and U. Their priorities would go to the Town Council for final decisions.
Stroud said many more details can be worked out in a contract between the Town and MLR. She said MLR would serve as the “lead on many things and through partnerships with the Town, Forest Service and Non-Governmental Organizations.
Council Candidate Karen Sibert had raised concerns about the MLR bylaws and the possibility of board members to profit. Town Attorney Andy Morris said the bylaws are typical. He did say he could check with the Fair Political Practices Commission on further conflict rules. The Town Council agreed with that and said his answers could also apply to Mammoth Lakes Tourism and Mammoth Lakes Housing.
The idea is to create a permanent Board of Directors in the fall. Meanwhile, the current Formation Committee will act as a Transition Board. MLR will hire an executive director and pay between $90,000 and $110,000 plus benefits. Councilman Matthew Lehman recommended the low end.
Six people commented on moving ahead with MLR. Sandy Hogan suggested transitioning once a contract exists between the Town and MLR. Teri Stehlik of the Recreation Commission favored moving forward. So did John Wentworth, citizen, candidate and CEO of Mammoth Lakes Trails. He said of MLR, “This is innovation writ large in flesh and blood.” Others asked why the Town could not do the work instead of MLR. Pat Agnitch questioned if voters wanted Measure R to pay for administrative costs.
Mayor Rick Wood, who sits on the MLR committee, said it takes time to work through a transition process. He said it took Mammoth Lakes Tourism a year. Wood said the committee is just asking the Town Council to give another push forward.
The Council did just that with a unanimous vote to begin the transition of Measures U and R processes to MLR and to begin negotiations on a contract with the Town.