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Sunapee boat launch backers sue to rebuff Sununu

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 16. 2017 8:10PM
For 26 years, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department doggedly pursued converting a 3.3-acre, dilapidated waterfront parcel into the only state-controlled, free-to-the-public, access point to launch boats onto Lake Sunapee. (Union Leader File)

NEWPORT - Two sports clubs and individual sportsmen have asked a Superior Court judge to overturn Gov. Chris Sununu's controversial decision that revoked a key permit for a proposed boat launch on Lake Sunapee.

The Sullivan County Sportsmen Club and the New Hampshire Bass Federation are among the groups that filed lawsuit, which contends a wetlands permit for the so-called Wild Goose site "erroneously" was brought to the Executive Council for approval.

Sununu blocked that item, concluding that after nearly 30 years this project had proven to be too expensive, too dangerous and had attracted too much local opposition to proceed.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has been trying since 1990 to get this project off the ground and its commission voted last month unanimously to condemn Sununu for his decision.

The agency said its mission is to offer state-regulated, public boat access on all the major lakes in the state and this former site of the Wild Goose Hotel is the best location.

The governor had many supporters for his veto of the permit, including the Lake Sunapee Protection Association along with town officials and elected lawmakers in Sunapee, Newbury and other surrounding towns.

They maintain the access road into the launch property would become a traffic hazard as that location already is the scene for many accidents.

Building the launch would require removing more than a dozen truckloads of fill from the environmentally-sensitive section of lakefront property, opponents maintain.

The lawsuit seeks to overcome past practice since the Executive Council last approved in 2012 a permit for this project

State Rep. Peter Hansen, R-Amherst, has already prepared legislation for the 2018 session that would negate Sununu's action and put the Wild Goose back on track.

"I just spent five hours reviewing many of the existing and historic site candidates for the court ordered launch and Wild Goose exceeds every other location by a factor of at least three," Hansen said Friday.

Many opponents would prefer the state expand the Sunapee beach property to accommodate boat launches, but Fish and Game officials and the agency's hired environmental consultant said that site is too narrow and that launching gas-powered boats is not compatible with recreational swimming.

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Thank you, Sununu