Citing what occurred at Mount Sunapee State Park and the need for transparency and public trust in the management of our parks, the N. H. Sierra Club testified in early February in support of HB 1456, a bill “relative to state acceptance of the lowest reasonable bid contract and relative to the sale, lease, or transfer of state property.”
The lease of the Mount Sunapee ski area most recently changed hands in 2017 “without public notice or legislative transparency,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Cathy Corkery.
“At the request of NH Sierra Club and others, the state did hold a public meeting, but it was scheduled months after the transaction was final,” said Corkery. “At that public meeting, the New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald agreed that the lease approval process was inadequate.”
In 2017, the criminally sanctioned hedgefund Och-Ziff (OZ) purchased the Mount Sunapee lease from the real estate investment trust CNL Lifestyle Properties. The state-owned ski area was first leased by the state to Okemo in 1998. Okemo sold the lease to CNL in 2008.
Controversy has followed the Mount Sunapee lease before and after its inception. The reoccurring issues relate to resort expansion, proposed private real estate development, and the state’s failure to protect the public’s interest and the conservation and public values of the park.
NOTE: On February 23, 2018, the House Committee on Executive Departments and Administration voted HB 1456 “inexpedient to legislate,” which kills the bill for this year.
Friends of Mount Sunapee continues to advocate for transparent and complete reporting of the financial and managerial operations of the ski area lease (of public conservation land) at Mount Sunapee State Park. We believe this is key to compliance and ethical management.