The town of Mammoth Lakes is on its way to paying off its $29.5 million debt it owes two private developers, the first light to be seen at the end of any tunnel for the town since mismanaging its way into what the Argentine ski instructors on the hill would consider a giant "quilombo." It's been one hell of a year in the Eastern Sierras.
All the way back in 1997, the town pissed off the FAA, who were about to give the town a grant to extend the runway and make it more hospitable to "destination travelers" until they found out the town wanted to hand airport property over to two private developers. This being against FAA regulations, the town then tried to wriggle out of its contract with the developers, and for years refused to agree to a reasonable settlement. Then this January, a district court decided the game was up, and ordered the tiny town of 8,000 to pay the nearly $43 million it owed, including legal fees. Whoops.
Following that, Mammoth Mountain laid off 75 long-term employees in the thick of last year's dismal winter, then closed nearby June Mountain this summer with no prior notice. While the mountain had been losing money for years, it effectively stranded the enclave of June with no source of winter income and no place to ski. Mammoth's CEO claims they'll re-open the hill for 2013/2014, but plans are vague.
Needless to say, there's been a lot of hurt in Mammoth Lakes the past twelve months, and the town biting the bullet means that some services, like 24-hour policing, will be cut back further, meaning the neighbor's Friday-night rager may go unchecked. But nobody could think coming back from the scalding embers at the edge of municipal bankruptcy, to the tune of 44% of the town's annual budget, wouldn't hurt, did they? Luckily, the late-night drunk bus didn't get cut, so visitors can imbibe unworried about their return trip home this winter.
·Council Closes Dark Chapter of Mammoth History [Mammoth Times]