The Friends of Mount Sunapee and the New Hampshire Chapter of the Sierra Club are seeking a full and transparent review into Och-Ziff’s acquisition of the Mount Sunapee lease. In April 2017, Och-Ziff, a New York based hedge fund criminally sanctioned under the Foreign Corruptions Act, acquired the ski area lease at Mount Sunapee State Park.
“We appeal to elected state officials to begin a complete and transparent review of this lease acquisition and all related documents. The people of New Hampshire, who are the rightful owners of the Mount Sunapee State Park, must be assured that our state park is in the hands worthy of the public’s trust,” said Steve Russell, the president of the Friends of Mount Sunapee.
Russell commented at the state-sponsored “public information session,” which attracted more than 100 people to the state park Tuesday evening.
Before the meeting, some people demonstrated their concerns about the state’s management of the park by holding signs that read: “Lease Violated,” “Mount Sunapee State Park, Endangered Species,” and “Where Is State Oversight?”
In attendance were state officials including Executive Councilors Andru Volinsky and Joseph Kenney, Commissioner Jeffrey Rose (Department of Natural and Cultural Resources), New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald, Associate AG Anne Edwards, and representatives from Och-Ziff, who tried to allay public concerns about Och-Ziff’s corporate practices.
However, many members of the audience appeared skeptical and unconvinced by the state’s assertions and corporate promises and left with questions unanswered about why the Och-Ziff transaction occurred without appropriate financial review and what impact it will have on maintenance and development of the park.
“The New Hampshire attorney general’s assertion that this transaction is not within the purview of state oversight contradicts language in the original 1998 Lease Agreement,” said Russell.
“Examining risk and financial security is essential to maintaining the public trust. It is standard practice in all state contracts. This contract involving the future of Mount Sunapee State Park is no exception,” he added.
The ski area lease at Mount Sunapee State Park now takes in 1035 acres of public land, forested and developed land in Newbury and Goshen.