My Turn: Mount Sunapee plan deserves state’s support
Mount Sunapee Resort has developed an exciting new proposal that will bring more visitors to the region, which will mean a significant boost for local businesses such as mine that support the tourism trade.
This is an economic development plan that has already won overwhelming support from the town of Goshen, and has endorsements from business leaders and associations throughout the region.
Reinvesting in Mount Sunapee would mean more revenue for restaurants and for ski businesses that thrive on the many thousands of visitors who come to this area to enjoy all that our beautiful state has to offer.
As the lease holder, Mount Sunapee Resort LLC has provided a steady hand of leadership. Winters come and go, and business has been steady. They have delivered on their 16-year-old promise to reverse the financial losses and turn Mount Sunapee into a money-maker for the state.
In addition, the company has invested $20 million in improvements at Mount Sunapee. And since 1998, the company has quadrupled the payroll. Over that time, visits to the resort more than doubled. What more could we ask of this group?
Expanding the ski resort has been a topic of conversation for decades. It’s all an extension of the original discussion about the use and preservation of Mount Sunapee.
In fact, the initial plan was to expand in the so-called East Bowl of the mountain, but due to environmental concerns, the state asked the lease holders to explore the West Bowl.
The result is the master plan released earlier this year.
The new proposal calls for a significant expansion of ski trails into the West Bowl. It calls for new lifts and ski lodges capable of handling a greater number of skiers, while offering even more variety for enthusiasts. We all benefit from a boost in business.
The local economy will grow and the state’s revenues will increase.
But what if opponents, who are hell bent to stop any improvements or changes, are successful and we reject the plan?
The answer can be found in the last few years of operation of Mount Sunapee versus what’s going on elsewhere. While other resorts are cutting new trails and adding amenities, Sunapee has stood still. Remember, Mount Sunapee was leased because the state did not provide funds for the required annual maintenance and upgrades to remain competitive.
By continuing to thwart Mount Sunapee’s ability to compete with other ski areas, the state is unwittingly doing the same thing all over again. It is creating a non-competitive future for Mount Sunapee.
I’m in the business of skiing. When people come to Sunapee, I can pay my bills. I know several other local businesses that operate under the same approach.
I’m tired of the state telling this local community that it can’t make improvements to Mount Sunapee. I’m tired of outside voices claiming to be “friends” of the resort, doing all they can to mislead the public and muddy the water about this plan.
We have an opportunity to make a real improvement to the single most important tourist attraction in the Sunapee region. I urge our state’s leaders to approve this plan and allow prosperity to return.
(Frank MacConnell is the owner of Bob Skinner’s Ski and Sport in Newbury.)