West Bowl Expansion At Mount Sunapee Closer To Reality
New Hampshire’s Mount Sunapee cleared another hurdle Thursday on its way to the West Bowl Expansion project.
The Mount Sunapee Advisory Commission, chaired by Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED) Commissioner Jeffrey Rose, presented approval of the Mount Sunapee Resort’s Revised Master Development Plan/Environmental Management Plan March 17.
“We are very pleased with DRED’s decision to accept Mount Sunapee’s Revised Master Development Plan,” Vice President and General Manager Jay Gamble told SnoCountry.com. “We believe it strikes a thoughtful balance between recreation and conservation. It ensures Mount Sunapee will remain a competitive resort in the Northeast.”
The ski area, which operates on state-owned Mount Sunapee State Park, is required by its Lease and Operating Agreement with DRED to present a Master Development Plan to the state every five years. Since 2004, Mount Sunapee has proposed an expansion of the ski terrain onto the western flank of the mountain that has been called the West Bowl.
“The revised plan I have approved today represents a balanced and responsible project,” said Rose in a statement. “The ability to bring recreation, conservation, and economic promotion together in a thoughtful way is one of the defining attributes of the agency and our State.”
Improvements would include a 5,100-foot high-speed quad, four top-to-bottom runs on about 57 acres and feeder trails, along with a base lodge and parking.
The December 2015 plan, revised from the one submitted June 2014, eliminates ski trails within a Exemplary Natural Community. It also requires all 150 acres associated with ski area expansion and facilities in the West Bowl be transferred to the state and requires an additional donation of 260 acres as conservation lands be transferred to the state prior to any construction.
Opponents fear the public use of Mount Sunapee State Park could be compromised by housing development adjacent to the expansion. Private lands adjacent to Mount Sunapee State Park are within Goshen’s Recreation District, which does not allow for residential and commercial real estate development.
The plan establishes a cooperative maintenance agreement to ensure protection of year-round hiking on the Summit Trail and minimizes trail impacts.
Components of the revised plan that requires the approval of the Governor and Executive Council have been submitted for consideration at the March 23 Governor and Council meeting.
Gamble said that should the Governor and Council approve the plan, the resort could then begin the permitting process in the towns of Goshen and Newbury, along with obtaining state approvals, with two to three years before construction begins.
Photo: Mount Sunapee’s West Bowl Expansion would add an additional 57 acres of trails. (Mount Sunapee/Facebook)