Community Split Over 'West Bowl' Expansion at Mount Sunapee

Community Split Over 'West Bowl' Expansion at Mount Sunapee

Hiking

Community Split Over 'West Bowl' Expansion at Mount Sunapee

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A Map of Mount Sunapee | Photo: N.H. Parks and Recreation

A proposed Vail Resorts expansion is ruffling some feathers at New Hampshire’s Mount Sunapee ski area. An Executive Council voted yesterday 3-2 to approve an expansion at the hill into the nearby area known as the West Bowl. The decision did not go over well with some locals, who resented an out-of-town corporation like VR profiting off their public lands. As the New Hampshire Union Leader reports:

It’s never been the right thing for the people of New Hampshire to obligate themselves to the West Bowl expansion,” Tom Elliott, Friends of Mount Sunapee

According to the revised development plan, prepared by the Colorado-based SE Group, the expansion will add 150 acres of West Bowl terrain, which in addition to new ski trails will also include a “quad chairlift, moving carpet surface lift, base lodge, ski school, ski rentals, retail and parking lots.

A letter penned to the Concord Monitor by current president of the Friends of Mount Sunapee Steve Russell expounds on the perceived problems with the expansion.

An integral part of this system is the area of ancient forest, which is dependent upon the surrounding forest to buffer it from irreparable damage. Mount Sunapee contains as much as 10 percent of all the known ancient forest in New Hampshire, and the great majority south of the White Mountains. The impact from developing a ski lift and trails in this area are permanent and will forever alter the character of this last vestige of wilderness in New Hampshire.

The three Republican council members who voted yes on the expansion told the Union Leader they did so as a matter of fairness. The original proposal, which had been approved in 2016 but subsequently fell apart, okayed the project for the previous leaseholders and they felt the same deal should be available to Vail Resorts.

Skiers, too, seemed more sanguine about the decision. More terrain, the thinking goes, will allow the resort keep pace with other area hills like Okemo Mountain Resort, a little more than an hour’s drive East into Vermont.

Those who spoke with the Union Leader seemed to agree that it’s more runs, not condominiums or other amenities, they’d like to see at Mount Sunapee.

What do you think? Read the full story in the Union Leader and let us know.

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