FOMS Statement presented by Cricket Hanna – March 9, 2004
My name is Cricket Hanna, President of the Friends of Mount Sunapee, a local alliance of citizens from towns across our mountain region. Our mission is to advocate for preservation of Mount Sunapee State Park, conservation of the Sunapee highlands and Lake Sunapee watershed, and continuation of the unique rural and natural character of the communities in the mountain’s shadow.
Our organization opposes expansion of the leasehold, based on three basic reasons: First, we believe this expansion and the resulting development will further diminish the natural and wild character of the state park. Secondly, we believe that resort-driven growth in Goshen puts at serious risk the rural and natural character of that town. Thirdly, and most importantly, we believe that the leasing of public land to facilitate private development is detrimental to essential public values and may set a dangerous precedent for other state-owned public lands.
Friends of Mount Sunapee believe that Mount Sunapee State Park exists to serve as a public protectorate, a refuge safeguarding essential public values not often protected on taxable private land. The State Park is a vital public asset serving the region and its population, it provides clean water for Lake Sunapee, healthy habitat for sensitive and threatened wildlife, old growth forests, and open space for local school children and families to picnic and explore our mountain’s natural legacy. And, historically, Mount Sunapee offered affordable skiing to the average income family, making it truly a people’s park.
We share the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests’ conviction that using public conservation land to facilitate private real estate development next to a state park fails to meet the public’s interest, and this proposal for expansion, therefore should be rejected.
We further believe that to decline the leasehold expansion now, at the outset of the Master Development Plan process, would spare much expense of time and money for all parties involved.
As for future planning for Mount Sunapee, we encourage a process that employs independently produced, research-based, and unbiased studies that will allow the State to consider the essential questions posed by further development within the Park.
In closing, I ask the Mount Sunapee Advisory Committee, the Regional Planning Commission, and the Commissioner to clarify publicly and in writing as soon as possible how the current Master Development Planning Process will unfold from here and to highlight when and in what formats the public may offer input into the process. There is no compelling public interest in rushing this process toward a deadline of June 1st, let alone May 11th. Once a clearly defined and scheduled and unprejudiced planning process is determined, it could be made known to the public for their consideration and participation. We hope that you will agree that it is in no one’s interest to rush this process.
Thank you for your attention to these matters and the opportunity to address this important matter before you today.