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Mammoth CEO's Plan For June Mountain Received Peaceably

Proclaiming to the audience at the county supervisors' meeting last week that instead of the trust of Juke Lake residents, "What I really want is more customers, for all of us," Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory, who has been in the hot seat since Mammoth closed June Mountain nearly one year ago, laid out the resort's plan for June's re-opening. Mammoth is hoping to re-open the mountain for weddings and special events this summer, with a return to June's regular seven day a week winter operating season come December. While the mountain had before served largely as overflow for Mammoth on busy days and the home of a seldom-utilized terrain park, June will be re-branded as an entry-level resort for families, possibly as a result of the lessons learned from the recent tour of smaller Vermont ski areas that have oriented themselves similarly.

Gregory asserted that Mammoth would be dumping $500-700K into June to get it ready for re-opening, and that in the years to follow, new snowmaking equipment would be installed as well as a new chairlift up the face of the mountain - possibly a chondola (part chairlift, part gondola), a gondola, or a high-speed quad. That combination of upgrades would run somewhere in the $5-7 million range. While Gregory admitted it was a tight timeline, the Forest Service expressed that they're game to get through the approvals quickly.

Mammoth's CEO also pressed for the need for an additional 2,000 beds in the town of June Lake in order to house long-term visitors. June Lake residents had been very resistant to Mammoth's pressing for purchase and development of the Rodeo Grounds plot at the base of June Mountain, which would have built a series of townhouses and second homes on what is the largest single plot of land in both Mammoth Lakes and June Lake. Instead, Gregory claimed that Mammoth's support was no longer hinging on development of that 87-acre property, which is currently on the market for $2.9 million. Mammoth let the opportunity for their right of first refusal pass in March.

Instead, Gregory wanted June Lake residents to understand that Mammoth would be "just a part of the discussion" about how to bring up the bed count in town. Still, some June Lake residents are skeptical of doing anything that would follow in the footsteps of Mammoth Lakes, which bottomed out in the recession last summer to the tune of a $42 million judgement against the town for bungling its attempt to develop its airport and extend its runway, something Mammoth Mountain had advocated for in order to make Mammoth a more attractive "destination resort."

Gregory also claimed that since Mammoth Mountain is recovering its finances due to the 1.1-1.5 million skier visits this season, the bank is keeping its paws off their back, and as such the mountain doesn't need their approval for any new plans.

· Rusty Gregory promises snowmaking and a new lift up the face at June Mountain [The Sheet]