The spring break weeks are over and the ski crowds are now dwindling. Eagle Base and Canyon Lodge closed today for the season. But new snow events are in the forecast. Maybe the local residents will get some prime skiing in the balance of April. The next few weekends should be busy and there are new Ikon ski pass holders taking advantage of late season access.
Last weekend Mammoth was hit by a major rain storm that cleared by mid-day Saturday. I watched Old Mammoth River flow in-and-out of Lake Chateau and most drivers were hydro-planning through it all. If Public Works can’t keep the storm drains cleared of debris during a well forecasted deluge, it makes me wonder how they will manage an ice rink facility and protect the Mammoth Creek riparian environment. The private property managers seemed to have a good grasp on the potentially hazardous rain event. Most of them know how to use a rake.
Town Council candidate Kirk Stapp who was a Councilman from 1986 to 2008 was interviewed in last week’s issue of The Sheet. He says he is running because he is “disappointed with the current Town government.” He is afraid of too much borrowing and the stretching of resources. He says the current Council simply endorses plans and expenditures without asking questions or doing any sort of analysis…And here I thought I was crazy all this time.Meanwhile, the whole Council election race is almost under the radar at this point. But the winter busyness is coming to a close, and there are more than 45 days to go.
The graded lot at the new Grocery Outlet location on Old Mammoth Road has sat all winter but construction work is starting back up. And now we hear they intent to construct a new Grocery Outlet in Bishop. More grocery shopping options are certainly welcome here in the Eastern Sierra.
Solid rumors are that YOTEL (yotel.com) is the buyer who has the Dempsey corner (Nevado’s, etc) in escrow. I spoke to listing agent last week and asked if they intend to close immediately or if the closing was contingent upon approvals, etc.. from the Town. She seemed to think it would close before any pursuit of entitlements.
The YOTEL concept would be an interesting addition to the Village area. They have a strong Millennial focus. The rooms are small (~170 square feet) and inspired by Japanese “capsule hotels.” They call it compact luxury. The beds are fold down smart beds. There is technology everywhere including electronic check-in and robotic luggage concierge. Their facilities also feature large and hip multi-bars, restaurants and congregation spaces.
I’m not sure how Mammoth Lakes fits into their mix of locations; they are primarily focused adjacent international airports like in London, Paris, etc. with expansion plans into Dubai, Singapore, Boston, Miami, etc. Maybe they think they can introduce their concept to southern California Millennials in Mammoth and turn them into raving fans….I wonder if they have to meet employee housing requirements for their front desk and valet robots??
The whole Mammoth Airport/Bishop Airport discussion became quite fuzzy to me during the period. News outlets were reporting that the FAA had received and looked favorably on the Bishop Airport Certification Manual and that is a good precursor for moving towards commercial certification for the Bishop Airport. Meanwhile, I had to renew my TSA clearance at Mammoth Airport and sat down and chatted with the Airport Manager there.
Even though Alterra and Mammoth Mountain now want the (subsidized) air service to be based in Bishop and there are some individuals in the community who are pushing it, there doesn’t seem to be general consensus in the Bishop community to want it. That was the attitude some 20 years ago when all of this started. The Airport Manager also didn’t see how the Town could manage the cost of running two airports; one is enough. Also, the general aviation popularity of Mammoth is only increasing (I can affirm that, the volume of private jet traffic has been impressive the last two winters).
So I see this getting messy, especially because Rusty wants a new direction. This will become a serious challenge for the new Town Council. I’m thinking that if Alterra wants the air service based in Bishop, that in order to gain community support in Mammoth we need to see Alterra pay off the remaining balance the Hot Creek settlement. It needs to go away and they were the ultimate cause of it. It is a mistake they need to be responsible for. That’s a good reason for me to vote for Kirk Stapp — he knows where the bodies are buried.
The other concern I have; will the Sierra Club sue Bishop just like they sued Mammoth for expanding the airport and air service? The environmental documents didn’t fully assess the “growth inducing impacts.” That stalled things here in Mammoth for a good 5+ years. Why wouldn’t they?? It istheir job. Maybe Mayor Wentworth has some insight??
Part of the recent marketing efforts for the new Ikon Pass was the “Four Awesome Road Trips” for Ikon Pass holders. I don’t think the New England road trip is in my future but the California road trip might entice some. Fly to Reno/Tahoe Airport and ski Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows and then road trip down to June and Mammoth Mountains. Throw in some gambling and great sight seeing. Some might chose to simply head to Vegas from here. Quite frankly, with the air service situation the way it is here, this is a reasonable way to market Mammoth to new Ikon pass holders. Do we really need an airport??
And speaking of the Ikon Pass, the senior citizens are still writing enraged letters to the local papers about the loss of the senior passes. But what may be lost in their understanding is that Alterra has tons of on-mountain data and that data is telling them something. And if the future is YOTEL, then the future of skiing and snowboarding isn’t about senior citizens. And anybody who can’t see what a great deal the Ikon Base Pass is might be too myopic to be on the ski runs anyway. The only question is how much will the Ikon Pass cost in five years?