Whitmore Pool, scheduled to close next summer because of austerity cuts by the Town of Mammoth Lakes, may yet stay open.
The townâ€™s recreation commission, to meet at 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 26, will consider moving $185,000 in Measure R tax funds to save the pool from going under.
The proposed bailout is part of a broader consideration of which projects are to receive funding in the latest round of Measure R requests, from cross-country ski trail grooming to rehabilitating the community tennis courts.
The town has $330,000 for such funding overall, but the eight projects are asking for a combined $670,431â€”a serious gap of nearly $350,000.
Funding to save the pool has been the most controversial, as both the Recreation Commission and Town Council try to find a way around language in Measure R regulations that indicate the tax funds cannot be used to â€śsupplantâ€ť existing recreation facilities.
At a Town Council meeting on Nov. 13, Mayor Matthew Lehman argued that the townâ€™s fiscal cliff scenario superseded strict interpretation of the â€śsupplantingâ€ť language.
Even given the momentum behind saving the Whitmore Pool, the rescue is not a done deal.
First, the Recreation Commission must pass the proposal. After that, the council will either accept or reject the proposal at its Dec. 5 watershed meeting, during which the entire town restructuring measures will come up for a vote.
The councilâ€™s austerity package is meant to create $2 million in the short term for its first payment on the townâ€™s settlement agreement with Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition.
The settlement calls for a $2 million first payment on Jan. 1, then a $2 million-a-year annual payment on the $29.5 million, 23-year deal. The next payment is due at the start of the 2013-14 fiscal year, beginning next July 1.
The issue at hand, though, is Whitmore Pool, and it carries some urgency.
With no general funds available for the pool in the townâ€™s lean larder, the council must either pass the Measure R request to keep the pool open, or vote against it, in effect closing the pool.
Of the $185,000, the bulk of itâ€”$117,000â€”would go for two yearsâ€™ worth of operations and maintenance. Another $60,000 would be set aside for parks personnel to direct its upkeep, with the leftover cash set aside for emergency reserves.
At risk are the other proposals in the Measure R funds requests.
The town has requested $91,930 for trail grant matches; the new Mammoth Track has requested $250,000 for the â€śfinishâ€ť work it requires, plus an additional $3,000 for track equipment; Mammoth Nordic has requested $66,400 for winter trail grooming; the town has requested $60,000 for enhancements to its ice/roller rink (the so-called â€śmulti-use facilityâ€ť), along with $16,101 for enhancements for special events. Finally, the town has requested $7,000 for rehabilitation work at the community tennis courts.
That leaves a gap of $349,431, with which the commission will grapple at its meeting, in Suite Z above the Minaret Cinemas.