Whitmore Pool takes center stage


Mammoth Lakes Town Council also looks at other savings

The Town Council on Thursday was scheduled to continue its headlong dash toward finding $2 million to pay for the first round of the MLLA settlement, this time focusing on the economic development structure, public works, and transit.

While much of the proposed $377,081 in savings would occur in the former “Community Development” department, the discussion was likely to feature more wrangling over the fate of the Whitmore Pool, which finds itself as one of the more controversial elements of the “restructuring” of the town government, along with proposed cuts to the police department.

As in the first town-wide discussion, which filled the full three hours of allotted time on Oct. 4, the council was not expected to make any ironclad decisions. The council (Mayor Matthew Lehman, Mayor Pro Tem Rick Wood, Jo Bacon, John Eastman and Michael Raimondo) vows to come up with a final plan—and decision—by it meeting on Dec. 5.

That deadline was imposed in advance of the imminent closure date of Mammoth’s bankruptcy proceedings, when a $2 million down payment on the $29.5 million, 23-year settlement is due.

The next $2 million payment is due July 1, the end of the fiscal year, when the town must make a final decision on the fate of police positions, seven of which are on the chopping block.

In the meantime, the town says it will move ahead with discussions regarding other cuts, including the measures that the town was scheduled to make last night (Thursday, Oct. 18).

Town financial figures show it costs Mammoth $57,416 a year to operate the Whitmore Pool, with the balance of the costs picked up by funds from Mono County.

The pool is in the purview of the newly re-structured public works department, which is to merge with the parks department under the proposed austerity measures.

Supporters of the pool filled the Town Council Chambers at the first discussion, and then showed up again in force at last week’s Recreation Commission meeting where they found support among the commissioners themselves.

In the first council go-around, the pool technically was not even on the agenda; this time it was, and it was likely to overshadow other proposals that would consolidate the public works and town parks departments; eliminate one full-time parks position; eliminate the community development director’s position; axe a permit technician; and do away with one position assigned to “administrative support.”

To make up for those losses, Town Manager Dave Wilbrecht and Assistant Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez proposed in their first draft document, dated Oct. 3., that the town would:

  • Engage volunteers and commissioned individuals to assist with TOT enforcement and collection
  • Explore outsourcing of plan reviews and similar functions, with costs picked up by developers
  • Research technology enhancements to streamline planning, increase efficiencies, and computerize the reporting process.

As for the second section of Thursday’s discussion—public works and transit—Wilbrecht and Marysheva-Martinez propose eliminating funding for the pool, then making up for other shortfalls by trying to:

  • Engage volunteers for parks maintenance as soon as possible and push for some kind of “Adopt-A-Park” measures to help cover costs
  • Explore ways to engage volunteers to greet passengers at the airport
  • Research the outsourcing of airport maintenance functions
  • Oversee the so-called Digital 395 Last Mile transition to help with Internet connectivity and broadband speed.

But the big item is in the de-funding, and likely closure, of the Whitmore Pool, which technically now falls in the lap of Public Works.

The director of that department, Ray Jarvis, was scheduled to present the plans before the council, which moved its regular Wednesday meeting to Thursday because Lehman and Wood were attending an Urban Land Institute conference in Denver that day.

Thursday’s meeting also will include a presentation from Susi Bains, the Wild Iris program director, and approval of a proclamation regarding the declaration of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The council also is likely to approve the priority trail projects for fiscal year 2012-13, presented by the Mammoth Lakes Trail System Coordinating Committee (MLTSCC), and recommended by the Recreation Commission last week.