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Community reacts to proposed sale of Mount Sunapee

(WCAX)
Published: Jun. 18, 2018 at 5:33 PM EDT
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It's an $82 million deal which gives many in this community high hopes.

"Big news here for Mount Sunapee and we couldn't be more thrilled. It is a huge opportunity," said Megan Burch of Mount Sunapee.

Earlier this month, Colorado-based Vail Resorts announced it is buying Mount Sunapee, along with Okemo and Crested Butte in Colorado. The deal is expected to be finalized later this summer.

"The EPIC Pass is the number one selling pass in the ski industry and now you can ski at Mount Sunapee on the EPIC pass, so what a great way to bring new people into our community," Burch said.

Tom Behrens owns two hotels, a spa and a general store just down the road from Mount Sunapee.

"It is just the next step in what started 20 years ago when the state realized that they shouldn't be in the ski business," Behrens said.

Mount Sunapee sits on more than 2,900 acres in the Mount Sunapee State Park-- valued conservation land that some in this community are passionate about.

"It may actually be a good thing," said Jolyon Johnson of Friends of Mount Sunapee.

Johnson isn't fighting the sale but he isn't sold on it either. His biggest concern is potential development in a state-owned pristine forest. His group, "Friends of Mount Sunapee," was outspoken against an expansion plan a couple years ago.

"Basically turning a state park into an entertainment entity for a private resort is not exactly why the state park was created," Johnson said.

Johnson is also concerned about the way the current leaseholders acquired the property, saying the process lacked transparency.

"Nobody, including the state, is watching who is involved in these transactions or how they happen, who is involved with what, how much money is involved," he said.

New Hampshire's attorney general says the Vail deal can't proceed without the approval of the state Department of Natural and Cultural Resources because the resort sits on state land. State officials say the deal will move forward with transparency and public involvement.

For those in favor of the sale, that approval can't come soon enough.

"We are set up for a lot of years of improvements up there and managed growth and prosperity," Behrens said.

The sale will likely come up at a previously scheduled annual meeting at the town offices Tuesday morning.

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