Tenney 'Goes for Broke' on funding for Gateway Project

Call it want you want: Shooting the Moon, Going for Broke, whatever.

For Elizabeth Tenney, it’s all of that, with an extra measure of audacity thrown in.

Tenney, whose volunteer projects in Mammoth have made her a key behind-the-scenes player, on Tuesday floored the town’s Recreation Commission with a request for $250,000 in Measure R (taxpayer) funding for her Mammoth Gateway Community Project, up from a previous request of $25,000.

“I’m highly skeptical that we could get that much,” she said to the commissioners, who answered her with their own skepticism.

“I actually hope I didn’t jeopardize any Measure R funding by going for broke.”

Whether the project qualifies for even a single dollar of Measure R funding—much less a quarter of a million dollars—caught the eye of several commissioners.

“I just don’t see in here (the proposal) that this fits under Measure R,” said commission chair Bill Sauser.
Said commissioner Teri Stehlik: “I don’t think it falls under Measure R.”

Measure R funds are taxpayer monies that are earmarked for the construction of new recreation construction projects. A good example is the funding for the Trails End Park, to be situated next to the Brothers Skate Park on Lower Meridian Blvd.

Measure R funding also went for the construction of the concrete slab and cooling element that were key components of the Mammoth Ice Rink.

Other project asking for money include the proposed Mammoth Track near Whitmore Pool, Whitmore Pool enhancements, new trails around town and a rehabilitation of the town’s community tennis courts, situated near the intersection of Minaret Boulevard and Forest Trail.

Tenney’s project, which began as an all-volunteer effort to build a “gateway monument” to the entrance of Mammoth Lakes on the north side of S.R. 203, offers no “recreation” elements at all, aside from a small pocket park that would be used as much for a sitting area than anything else.

Even that element drew some fire from the commission.

“I have a concern about a ‘sitting area’ that close to the highway.”

Tenney said the Gateway Monument deserves Measure R funding because it would reflect Mammoth’s commitment to recreation—a front door, so to speak.

Tenney herself said she sees the shortcomings of her request.

“I know it’s an astronomical amount of money,” she said. “All I can do is ask.”

Among the exchanges were between commissioner Pat Agnitch and Tenney:

Agnitch: “If you were to get $250,000 …”

Tenney: “I would fall over in a dead faint.”

Originally, the Gateway Monument was conceived as a kind of shield to hide from incoming traffic the new county courthouse, which Tenney—a Planning Commission member—said was ugly and uninviting.

That argument disappeared over the past several months as she and architect Larry Walker combined on the new monument design.

Projected costs escalated with each new tweak to the project.

Previous to the Gateway Monument project, Tenney led the effort to establish the small, but elegant park alongside the Post Office. That project was an entirely volunteer effort.

But that was before Measure R, too.