CONCORD - The long-held dream of a state-owned, easily accessible public boat launch on Lake Winnipesaukee is about to become a reality.
The Executive Council on Wednesday approved the purchase of Downing's Landing, a commercial boat launch at the junction of routes 11 and 28-A in Alton Bay.
Glenn Normandeau, Fish and Game Department executive director, said the public should be able to use the facility this winter for ice fishing.
The state will pay $1 million to purchase the facility on eight-tenths of an acre from Downing Brothers, Inc.
"We've been working on this for a long time," Normandeau told the council, "pretty much under the table, so the whole thing would not blow up."
He told executive councilors he did not expect much opposition because the facility is currently operated as a boat launch, so "there is no change of use."
Councilors praised the purchase and the access it will provide to Lake Winnipesaukee.
"This is great for the people of New Hampshire," said District 2 Councilor Dan St. Hilaire, R-Concord. "The people of New Hampshire will be able to put a boat into Lake Winnipesaukee without having to own a $5 million lakefront home."
Normandeau told the council the series of docks will allow his department and the marine patrol to use the facility to provide better coverage of the lake.
The state has several other areas for public boat access to the lake but with drawbacks compared to the new facility, which is in deep water and easily navigable.
State law has required the Fish and Game Department to pursue state-owned boat launches on all the major water bodies in the state.
While the public has access to many lakes at private marinas, there is little free boat access to water bodies except at town sites, which are reserved for residents only.
Fish and Game has run into opposition trying to locate public boat launches on many lakes including Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam and Sunapee.
- - - - - - - -Garry Rayno may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.