Another Mammoth Lakes Committee

In an effort to not put the cart before the horse, the Tourism and Recreation Commission met on Tuesday to discuss the formation of a Steering Committee for Measure R. The Steering Committee's sole responsibility will be to establish the criteria that will then determine what projects could be eligible to receive Measure R dollars once they begin to arrive in January 2009.

As stated in the Measure R ordinance, it will still be up to the Tourism and Recreation Commission to make funding recommendations to the Town Council.

"The Steering Committee would only establish the nuts and bolts, the 'how' of this process," said Tourism and Recreation Commission Chair Bill Sauser.

Now that voters agreed to raise their local sales tax by .5 percent, a plan must be developed to determine how the funding will be allocated once it begins to be collected and distributed back to the Town so that parks, trails and recreation projects can take place.

Commissioner Dieter Fiebiger was concerned about the public's reaction to the formation of another committee, citing that the facilitator for the committee may be another cost the Town does not need.

"We promised the community that the Tourism and Recreation Commission would handle this," Fiebiger said.

His fellow commissioners pointed out that the committee would not be taking away any of the Commission's responsibility to choose what projects would be recommended to Town Council. It would simply be a way for several agencies to get together, now, and determine the process of "how" funds could be allocated. They would not be making any funding decisions. The committee's work will be completed before Measure R dollars even begin to be collected in October, let alone before funds arrive to be used in January 2009. The facilitator will not be paid from Measure R fees since no fees will have been collected while he or she is at work. No mention of how the facilitator would be paid was made.

"Basically we just want to have the facilitator to keep our discussions on track and to keep everyone neutral during this process," said Steve Speidel, Principal Planner for the Town. "We do, however, want to make sure the community understands that we are not trying to make this process more laborious."

The point stressed by the Commission was that the process needs to be done right to make sure there is clearly defined criteria for this funding. Since the money does not even begin to be collected until October there is time to go through this process.

The Commission, excluding Fiebiger, voted to approve the formation of the Steering Committee. They agreed that it should be made up of seven people. Those people will include two representatives from the Tourism and Recreation Commission (Commission Chair Bill Sauser and Commissioner Tony Colasardo), and one representative, yet to be determined, each from MLTPA, USFS, MMSA, the Town of Mammoth Lakes, and Mono County. In the case that one of these agencies does not want to sit on the committee, a third T&R Commissioner, Ruth Harrell, would be added to the group. No names were mentioned as to who the facilitator may be.

The Commission decided to add the County to the mix because several Town recreational facilities, such as Whitmore Pool, are on County land. The County is also a partner in the South Gateway property, which is expected to serve as a large recreational area for the Town. Measure R dollars will still only be spent on parks, trails and recreation belonging to the Town of Mammoth Lakes.

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