At this time next year, a roof will span the ice rink.
Moreover, a viable business plan will be in place after one summer’s worth of watching what works and what doesn’t.
It will be the town’s first and only “multi-use facility,” and it got the green light earlier this month from the Recreation Commission, which awarded the town $12,500 in funding to design it.
The funding, coming from Measure R money in the first year and Measure U funds in the second, would not be touched by either the town’s budget cuts or by the $43 million Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition judgment.
The idea of such a project is straightforward, according to Recreation Director Stuart Brown.
In the warm months, the structure—a durable fabric structure that could last 10 to 15 years, could be reserved for birthday parties, small concerts and a host of recreational activities, including rollerblading.
The birthday rentals and rollerblading (inline skating) will get their first trial runs this summer, beginning June 8, albeit without a roof, Brown said. The town will rent inline skates (Golden Horse, a mix of used and new) for those without equipment.
He cited recreation surveys in Mammoth that emphasized the clean, smooth surface.
Town crews completed the concrete slab and rink last winter, in the first phase of an ambitious plan to place a metal roof over the structure.
However, with a metal roof cost of about $1.5 million, the town decided to go with a “sun shade” fabric structure that would make the facility more usable both in the winter (by reducing sun exposure and melting ice) and in the summer, when the intensity of the sun could bake users like so many buttermilk pancakes.
The roof structure itself will be 125 feet wide and 22 feet long. It would be a removable system, depending on the needs for weather and shading. Its design is by local architect Bruce Woodward
It is possible, Brown said, that State Parks funds might be available to assist with construction costs. The grant cycle, he said, is due in October of this year and requires a 50 percent match.
Engineer Peter Bernasconi said there is a probability that the structure will reduce costs of electrical power for the ice rink by 50 percent, or $10,000, a year.
After its shelf life, Bernasconi said it might be about the time that the metal cover could be funded.
Last winter, the ice rink drew about 13,000 skaters in the two-and-a-half months of operation. It closed in February, when rays from the rising sun melted away the ice. In the upcoming summers, Brown said the facility would be more conducive to an older crowd for events and concerts.
The facility is on land owned by the Mammoth Unified School District, which worked out a lease arrangement with the town. It is fenced and has restroom facilities.