Bathhouse dedicated in North Hampton
NORTH HAMPTON — Friday was not the most ideal day to be at the beach, but local residents were still happy to celebrate the dedication of the new North Hampton State Beach bathhouse.
Gov. Maggie Hassan also braved the weather to cut the ribbon on the expanded facility, which mimics the design of the new Hampton Beach State Park facilities just a few miles down the coast.
The bathhouse project was over a year in the making and required the support of voters in Rye and Hampton, as well as the state Legislature, which committed $450,000 to the $600,000 project.
Before the construction, the modular bathhouse was in a state of serious disrepair. The septic system had failed in 2004, and was being pumped at least three times a week during the summer. The new bathhouse is connected to the Rye sewer line, just 50 feet away, and the waste is pumped to the Hampton Wastewater Treatment Plant after voters approved the project by a 2-1 margin in March 2012.
Jeffrey Rose, commissioner of the Division of Resources and Economic Development said it is an important investment in the state park system.
He said they want to make sure visitors have a great experience at all of the state's 92 parks and good amenities are part of that.
State Sen. Nancy Stiles, R-24, said they are going to keep working up the coast to make buildings at the Seacoast parks look similar. The next one up the line is Jenness Beach in Rye, which has a similar bathroom facility to the one demolished at North Hampton.
Former Executive Councilor Chris Sununu referred to the former North Hampton bathhouse as the last "black eye" on the Seacoast and as a local resident, he had started going to Rye because the facility was in such bad shape. "I'm just excited to use it," he said.
The finishing touches are being done now and the bathhouse is scheduled to open the weekend of June 15.
Hassan said it was an important day and event for the economy of the Seacoast and the whole of New Hampshire.
"As the second largest industry … the travel and tourism industry is integral to New Hampshire's economy," Hassan said. "Our beaches are among our most prized attractions."
Tamera Saal has lived in North Hampton for 19 years and said the former bathhouse was "disgusting."
"It is really the only way you can describe it. There was always something on the floor … you wouldn't use it if you didn't have to," Saal said.
She said a handful of residents led by mom Amanda Peterson pushed for the state to do something about it.
They questioned what the state was doing with the money collected at the parking meters at the beach.
"They got the ball rolling. I'm not sure the state would have done anything without the residents," Saal said.
The new bathhouse is double in size, has more fixtures, is accessible to people with disabilities and has dedicated changing areas for babies.
"One of the problems with the old building, is there were just worn out finishes, so someone could clean and clean and it didn't look clean. It was discouraging to staff. This will be a whole lot better," Tom Mansfield, department architect for DRED, said.
The building uses the same fiber cement siding used on the Hampton Beach buildings and Mansfield said he hopes it is good for the next 50 years.