Conference Center/Four Star Hotel

The town of Mariposa has several small conference rooms available to community organizations, but lacks a convenient facility for larger groups to hold meetings, to show a movie, etc. to, say, a group of 100-200 people. Prior to investing county money in a large facility, I am interested in finding interim measures that the community might adopt to accommodate these small to medium sized groups for community events and/or conferences.

For example, the facilities at the fairground could be improved to accommodate such activities with bus service to and from local motels. The Fiester Auditorium at the high school is being spruced up with a new screen, a new 5000 lumens projector, new stage lighting and new ceiling tile. Fiester Auditorium is in a beautiful art-deco building and could be better utilized for evening events, concerts, movies, etc. In addition, high school students can learn valuable job skills supporting such events working the lighting and/or audiovisual equipment.

For several years there has been discussion of locating a much larger convention or conference center/performing arts center in or near the town of Mariposa in conjunction with a 4-star hotel. A write-up on the center by the EDC in 2012 calls for a 1,000 seat main auditorium with smaller venues suitable for chamber music, etc. While the idea of a convention/performing arts center/four star hotel is very attractive to many in the community, not everyone shares that vision as it would change the nature of the downtown area.

Even if everybody wanted such a facility, the real question is its economic viability. Mariposa County already has a four star hotel and convention center, Tenaya Lodge, located on Highway 41. Snow is somewhat an issue for Tenaya Lodge some months of the year, but the more fundamental problems are that it is located too far from major airports and too far from Yosemite for an afternoon recreational opportunity without a long bus ride. A conference center located in or near the town of Mariposa would have these same problems and it is not clear that we should put a competing facility in the County at this time.

Furthermore most, if not all, developments of this type require financial backing by the local community. It may not be realistic to expect that such a development would not require County dollars. While I'm not completely opposed to such a conference center, as supervisor, I would need to be sure that it makes economic sense and that, if the project starts and fails, it would not result in a financial burden for which the taxpayers in the County must assume responsibility.