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Your boat launch: We all own one now

The Executive Council on Wednesday approved the state's purchase of a private marina on Lake Winnipesaukee. The reason? To acquire at long last a public, deep-water boat launch on the big lake. Taxpayers should greet this $1 million purchase with cautious optimism.

"This is great for the people of New Hampshire," District 2 Executive Councilor Dan St. Hilaire said. "The people of New Hampshire will be able to put a boat into Lake Winnipesaukee without having to own a $5 million lakefront home."

Perhaps. But Downing's Landing, the Alton Bay business the state has purchased, charged only $10 for a boat launch and $20 for a launch and on-site parking. That would add up over the course of a summer, but for weekend visitors it was hardly a big expense.

Then there is the issue of the deal. Glenn Normandeau, executive director of Fish and Game, said "We've been working on this for a long time, pretty much under the table, so the whole thing would not blow up."

Hmm. What does that mean? Legislators ought to find out.

Having a basic public boat launch on the big lake is a good idea. But does the state really need to own a marina that competes with other private marinas on the lake? Have taxpayers just spent $1 million so boat owners won't have to pay $10 to put their vessels in the water?

Legislators need to keep an eye on the numbers to make sure that this deal is as good for the public in the long run as councilors say it will be. And they should review this "under the table" affair, too.

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