Lawmakers determine who will control Gunstock Resort

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By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org

CONCORD — The future of the Gunstock Recreation Area in Gilford and who controls it is now before the New Hampshire House of Representatives and a Senate conference committee.

State Rep. Michael Sylvia, R-Belmont, said Wednesday that the two parties formed a committee to reconcile different versions of a bill that could allow Belknap County residents to vote on who sits in the Gunstock Area Commission.

Currently, the 18 Belknap County Houses of Representatives control that vote.

Entrants will need to reach some sort of legislative resolution by the May 26 deadline.

The question now is whether or not the county should continue to operate it, lease it, or enter into public-private partnerships, among other things.

Some locals say the current legislative delegation appears to be at war with the GAC over its future direction and more than 3,500 people have signed a petition calling on the legislature to legislate to allow the GAC to be democratically elected.

The GAC oversees operations at Belknap County-owned Gunstock Recreation Area in Gilford.

The property includes a ski resort, adventure center, campground and other year-round recreational facilities and is operated as a business with a general manager who works for the GAC.
It is run as a business with profits going to county coffers.

There was an ambitious new development master plan drawn up by the GAC to expand the area to look more like a resort with a hotel, but there was no vote on implementation.
Since then, there has been a lawsuit filed by members of the GAC against the delegation which was withdrawn.

Sylvia has provided InDepthNH.org with a number of documents for review related to what he calls the core of the matter and which relate to the lawsuit.

The House and the Senate have two very different versions of the bill. One would allow the public to vote, the other would add two non-voting positions to oversee the GAC.

The Senate last week passed an amended House Bill 1397 that gives voters a say while the House version only called for two nonvoting representatives – one from Business and Economic Affairs of the state and another member of the Belknap County Commissioners – to serve. systematically.

State Rep. Tim Lang R-Sanbornton, who said he believes the property is owned and should be controlled by county residents, was asked if he thought it was a conflict of interest for the 18-member delegation from Belknap County House to vote on the measure. .

He said ‘no’, but ‘I think it’s interesting that the very sponsor of the secession bill that would give voters the ability to decide whether we stay in the United States or not, thinks voters are unable to decide who runs Gunstock.

Lang is considered among those considering running for State Senate District 2 in the fall.

Sylvia, who is the chair of the delegation, was the main sponsor of a separate constitutional amendment CACR 32, which would have allowed New Hampshire voters to decide whether or not to secede from the United States https://gencourt.state. nh.us/bill_status/legacy/bs2016/billText.aspx?id=1336&txtFormat=html&sy=2022.
Sylvia did not respond to this aspect in an email seeking comment on Wednesday, but provided background material based on concerns the delegation had with the existing GAC.

In recent months, there has been controversy over board replacement appointments and a dropped lawsuit related to delegation powers to select the five-member commission.

Sylvia was involved in a separate effort, Lang said, which would have asked all citizens of the state to vote on whether New Hampshire should go it alone and entirely separate from the United States.

His proposed amendment, which failed in a 323-13 vote and required a supermajority to pass, was also co-sponsored by Republican Alton State Rep. Raymond Howard, another member of the Belknap County delegation.
A copy of the amended bill is here at https://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_status/billinfo.aspx?id=1773 which he co-sponsors would give voters control.

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