Mt. Sunapee: just the facts

Informed decisions are the best decisions. When the public is asked to offer input on a decision, such as approval of  the expansion of trails at the Mt. Sunapee Ski Resort, the best course of action is to review the facts and make a decision that reflects the best options.

Unfortunately, in recent days, opponents of the proposed expansion have resorted to making incorrect, unfounded claims.

In his NH Business Review article (“A plea to NH: Leave Mt. Sunapee alone,” June 12-25) Mark Lennon simply does not have his facts straight. The ski-on/ski-off land he is referring to is owned by some of his New London neighbors and their associates. The Mt. Sunapee Ski Resort operators do not now, nor have they ever owned this land.

The land was approved for residential development in 2006 and never sold a single unit, as there is no market for residential housing at a day-tripper mountain. It is disappointing to have Mr. Lennon’s false claims published, as it is well known the resort doesn’t own this land.

Another example of published unfounded claims against this proposed expansion comes from a former state official who darkly predicts there will be no more snow in 40 to 50 years in central New Hampshire.

“ … Increasing greenhouse gas emissions beyond current levels is guaranteed to change all snow in southern New Hampshire to rain, permanently eliminating skiing on Mt. Sunapee,” said Lionel Chute of Washington, now manager of the Sullivan County Conservation District.

From climate change to false fabrications about land ownership around the ski resort, there appears to be an effort to throw everything at the wall and hope something sticks to prevent, what I believe, is a responsible, balanced enhancement of the Sunapee outdoor experience.

Enough. People in New Hampshire respect straight talk. It is one of the reasons we lead off the presidential primary process. We have a reputation for keeping our heads and making smart decisions after gathering the facts.

Opponents of this modest expansion, which amounts to adding four ski trails, one lift, some parking and a small satellite base lodge, have lost their heads.

I respect that there is honest concern about the impact of this proposal on the region, its residents, the environment and on businesses. Airing those concerns, amending the plan and double-checking unanticipated consequences is part of a time-tested process that has worked on countless other projects. This one is no different.

The proposal offered by Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner Jeff Rose would require the land used for this expansion be permanently signed over to the state. His plan would also require hundreds of acres of land to be set aside for permanent conservation. And his plan creates a buffer zone to permanently prohibit so-called “ski on / ski off” slopeside private development next to this state-owned park.

Those are the facts, and they are presented for all to read and review in the plan being discussed right now by DRED. Check it out yourself at

There is strong public support for this proposal in the Sunapee region. Yes, there is a vocal group supported by significant out-of-state resources opposing this proposal. They have a right to speak their opinions, but we all need to respect the facts. Let’s stop the wild and inaccurate claims and allow for a fair review process. That will yield the best results.

Hess Gates and his wife Rosemary own the Twin Doors Bed & Breakfast in Sunapee.

Categories: Opinion