Mammoth Town Council approves multi-use facility

By Deb Murphy

Mammoth Lake’s multi-use facility (aka the ice rink) got the green light at last Wednesday night’s Town Council meeting, by a 3-2 vote. The rink and community center project now heads into the design and environmental analysis phase.

Mammoth Creek Park West

Mammoth Creek Park West

After an hour of public comments, weighted heavily against the Mammoth Creek Park West site, not the concept, council members split, not on the site but the cost. Councilmembers John Wentworth and Shields Richardson both argued the funds and time may be better spent “acquiring additional lands” for the town. “We live in a constrained land mass,” said Wentworth.


Mayor Michael Raimondo seemed to teeter. “We don’t have any money, it’s that simple. For the last four years, all we’ve done is cut.” But, he expressed his approval of the $2 million project, just asking that the $150,000 cost of the environmental documents and design not come out of the Public Works budget, sending councilmembers into a discussion of funding sources. The conclusion: monies could be used from Measure R or the town’s Mello-Roos Community Facilities District accounts.

A pall, of sorts, fell over the Council discussion when the cost of defending the town against potential law suits was brought up. That estimate: $100,000.


Bill Raff, homeowners’ association president at La Vista Blanc, a condo complex that abuts the park, started the lawsuit discussion. Referring to a 1999 Environmental Impact Report on an earlier rink/community center project at MCPW, Raff noted “a lot of major mitigation required.” “If we’re not satisfied,” he said, “we’ll do what we have to do to mitigate…. The lighting, noise and parking” issues.

The pro and con arguments have all been aired before. Those against cited the lighting-noise-parking problems, strongly suggesting relocation to Mammoth Creek Park East, owned by the U.S. Forest Service, or an “industrial/commercial area” as recommended by Raff. Robin Bell suggested the project was like jamming a square peg in a round hole. The rink was also compared to a WalMart. Sharon Clark warned the Council to slow down on the project.

On the pro side, Tom Johnson, a project task force member, admitted he was skeptical at the outset but after going through the site review process “there was no close second.” Another task force member said MCPW was identified as an active-use park from the beginning.

“South Lake Tahoe operates an ice rink successfully,” said Jay Cole, “with 71-percent of its revenues made during 8-percent of its operating hours” hosting tournaments.

During the Council discussion, Colin Fernie stressed the importance of improving the town’s amenities, driving more visitation and providing a better resort experience. City Manager Dan Holler and Public Works Director Grady Dutton both said the city would continue to engage the community in the design phase.


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13 Responses to Mammoth Town Council approves multi-use facility

  1. MJA October 28, 2015 at 8:10 am #

    The hokey rink is in a great place, right where it is. And as for the park, the only thing missing or needed was a little more water for irrigation. It doesn’t take money to leave this little park alone. So leave it alone Mammoth, the rink and the park are just how they are meant to be. =.

  2. Roger Rilling October 28, 2015 at 1:02 pm #

    I see this as a childish response to the voters decision on measure “Z”.

    This willfully ignorant council is cutting off our nose to spite their face.

    They are headed for another version of the airport fiasco. Mammoth seems

    determined to pursue one get rich quick scheme after another- each one

    presented as solving all our problems with no effort (or thought).

  3. Jeremiah J. October 28, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

    This might be the most desperate and foolish Town Council we have ever seen in Mammoth. They will do anything to try and be more like our “peer resorts.” This will not be the last of their bad decisions that disregard the will of the people. They just spent $50,000 in a desperate and misguided attempt to turn Mammoth’s residential neighborhoods into commercial rental districts and they got smacked down by 70% of the voters. Now they want to throw good money after bad by moving the ice rink, and in the process, ruin one of the only, and possibly nicest family-friendly parks in town.

    Mammoth needs REAL community members to step up and run for Council, not these wannabe “businessmen” who will do or sell anything in a desperate attempt to be like other resorts, and destroy what makes Mammoth great in the process.

  4. Low-Inyo October 29, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

    If your the same Jeremiah J. I know,LONG before your time on Earth,back in the early 80’s,Mammoth Lakes wanted their quiet little town to be like this….wanting an airport….wanting the Olympics….wanting millions of yearly tourists….condos..the “village”…they wanted to be the west coast Vail,,money,money…and the hell with those that owned homes and planned a quiet retirement in the Sierras’…now,sadly,the chickens have come home to roost….you reap what you sow…and hopefully a lesson to be learned for other little towns to see before they chase the all-mighty dollar.

    • Roger Rilling October 30, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

      Low Inyo- I totally agree. The key word here is “want”. The various town councils

      have refused to deal with the facts and the realities as they are. Instead, they have

      created an alternative reality of wishful thinking and fantasies.

  5. sugar magnolia October 30, 2015 at 8:35 am #

    I don’t use the ice rink so I’ve not paid a lot of attention to this issue. But last saturday, I took a walk around the Old Mammoth Park, over to the condos next door. It appeared to me to be a great place for an ice rink. I don’t understand why everyone is up in arms about this.
    Of course the condo owners won’t like it, but they have no expectation of the park staying under-developed to their benefit. In fact, they should have had the opposite expectation…one that this under-developed park would likely be expanded at some point in the future. They’ve received a benefit over the years of this quiet park. That doesn’t make it their right to demand it stay that way.
    You should see what the Town and developers did to owners of Nordica Condos. They allowed a two story development to be built right on the lot line, COMPLETELY blocking the light from the side of the condos with the large windows. It’s shocking to see what was allowed to be built.
    Some noise from a park expanding is nothing compared to that light and view blocking development.
    I agree parking will be a problem, they’ll need to expand parking across the way.

    • Maria Sandoval October 31, 2015 at 11:00 am #

      The issue is not an owner’s expectation to a perpetual great view. In opposing the Hockey Rink relocation to Mammoth Creek Park West the issue is pushing back, setting precedent, so that no local government can infringe zoning ordinances mixing commercial use with residential use. Preserving the park is not only for the benefit of the residents around it but for the benefit of all Mammoth Lakes residents.

      Have you ever been to an ice hockey game? This is not “some noise from the park”, when the pucks hit the border of the ice field it is a machine gun noise! In order to make it financially feasible the town will run the rink like a business, and a highly polluting one at that, not only from the noise, but also from the traffic, light, parking…parking across the way will create liability for the town. A business of this nature doesn’t mix well with homes. Everybody else in the country understands this!

      I encourage all residents to take a walk on the wild side!! Because a walk in this park will make anyone want to preserve it as it is. Don’t pave the park! There are plenty of places town-owned or forest service-owned where the hockey rink should go.

      • sugarmagnolia November 1, 2015 at 7:24 pm #

        Are you saying that the public use zoning of this parcel conflicts with a hockey rink? I find that hard to believe. And again, there is commerical use next to the park, residential behind it. The park itself is neither commerical or residential….but is public use.

        Why would we want to preserve this park as it is? Essentially only a small percentage of it is being used right now. The only people who benefit from this undeveloped area of park land are the nearby residents.

        Yes, we would ALL love to have a couple acres of vacant, unused land next to our houses…but guess what, NONE of us have that. I made tough decisions when determining where to live, ie. I passed on a house I liked a lot because it was on a busy street. If I were considering buying a condo next to a park, I would think twice since parks are for the public and some public activities are noisy.

        The nearby residents are NIMBYers…plain and simple.

  6. Ken Warner October 31, 2015 at 9:28 am #

    This is great! I get to watch the town government flop around like a trout on the bank trying to be even more stupid than they’ve been in the past.

    Someone (not me) might ask why the money it will cost to move the “multi-use facility” isn’t put into putting a building around the existing concrete slab and turning it into a year round ice rink. But I’m sure the city government’s reply to that would be “huh?”

    • gary November 3, 2015 at 6:14 am #

      Good on ya.

    • gary November 3, 2015 at 6:16 am #

      You should probably consult John Eastman.

  7. Steve Ball October 31, 2015 at 10:49 am #

    This is such a bad decision by councilmembers Wentworth, Collins, and Bacon. There is no good reason to relocate the ice hockey rink next to a high density residential neighborhood, because they fear Mammoth School District may pull-back someday on the land they are leasing to the town; justifying why they can’t just put a roof on the current ice hockey rink. Just Google a satellite map around the current ice hockey rink and notice how much free space and land there is available for the school and college to expand someday. It will take many decades of growth before it ever reaches the current ice rink. Such fear incited by the Town Council is unwarranted and unjustified. Just put a roof on the current site of the ice hockey rink and stop wasting tax payer and TOT money just to move it 2 blocks away. For heaven’s sake, it’s NOT a snoopy ice skating pond; It’s an ice HOCKEY rink! it doesn’t belong next to a high density residential neighborhood.

  8. sean October 31, 2015 at 10:55 am #

    I am wondering how nice of a facility can be built for $2mm. Doesn’t seem like enough money. Why the rush to build this? Will $2mm really build a “world class” facility for this “world class” resort town? Or will it be half-assed since really the land is not the right spot nor is the budget big enough to make this a really great year round use facility. I think building more parking around the Village would provide more economic benefit to the town than this ice rink. This is just a thought not backed by actual projected revenue data but this project smells like an incorrect use of money at this time and at this location. Why the rush?

    “No deal is better than a bad deal” .


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