In April (2016), Governor Hassan and N.H. Executive Council approved a lease amendment that allows resort expansion and development of a West Bowl ski area at Mount Sunapee State Park.
Citing legal and public policy concerns, the Friends of Mount Sunapee continues to strongly oppose private resort and ski area expansion at the state park.
No “West Bowl” projects in the Annual Operating Plan (AOP) recently submitted by Okemo/Mount Sunapee Resort to N.H. Department of Resources and Economic Development. The AOP for 2016-2017 and an update on hiking trails are on the agenda for the meeting of the Mount Sunapee Advisory Committee on June 23rd. FOMS encourages the public to attend.
Mount Sunapee Advisory Committee Meeting
When: Thursday, June 23 (2016) at 10 a.m.
Where: Newbury Town Offices, Route 103 – Large Conference Room
Read the Annual Operating Plan 2016-2017 (pdf 7.7 MB)
The AOP for the coming year says “no major capital projects” are planned; all projects “are maintenance projects.” Adding a mountain bike trail to the “Adventure Park” is anticipated.
The AOP references numerous DRED approved improvements not yet completed. These projects include improvements within the current leasehold area to ski trails, lifts, buildings, snow-making, and infrastructure.
AOP reports a sharp decline in 2015-16 skier visits
Last season’s so-called “no-snow winter” and record-breaking warm temperatures in the Northeast melted away snow-making budgets and shortened the ski season by weeks.
The ski area at Mount Sunapee closed for the season on March 27th and the resort reported 179,000 skier visits, a 30% decline from the prior season. Ski days numbered 113 last winter vs. 143 open days in 2014-2015.
The AOP provided no revenue figures and did not reveal visitation numbers for non-skiing activities. The resort promotes a “summer activities” program and operates the lodges and facilities within the leasehold area year round for a variety of special functions, which now include rental of lodge space and facilities for private use.
The AOP, once again, recycles grossly outdated information pointing to 1998 wildlife habitat mapping and omits critical studies that document ecologically valuable resources at the state park and within and surrounding the ski area.
The state’s oversight policy for the ski area requires (submission to DRED and the Town of Newbury) an annual operating plan, which is due each year by May 15th. The plan is normally presented at a public meeting in late May or early June. This year, the plan will be presented and discussed with the Advisory Committee only seven days before the June 30th due date for DRED’s written response.
Read the Public Involvement and Oversight Policy 1998 (pdf)
FOMS encourages public participation and openness in all policy-making processes that determine the future of our state park and our region.