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Sununu creates commission to bring public access to boating on Lake Sunapee

By MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader

September 19. 2017 4:08PM
Gov. Chris Sununu on Tuesday established a commission to help decide the future of the controversial Wild Goose property along Lake Sunapee in Newbury. (Union Leader File)

CONCORD -- Gov. Chris Sununu on Tuesday established a commission to help decide the future of the controversial Wild Goose property along Lake Sunapee in Newbury.

“Trying to salvage a flawed and controversial idea that has not gone anywhere in over 20 years and that was left without funding by the Legislature is not a viable plan to increase public access on Lake Sunapee,” the governor said in a statement. “My priority remains bringing forward a real proposal that will actually allow Granite Staters greater access to our Lake Sunapee.”

The 15-member commission will prepare a report with recommendations by March 1. The commission will include at least six members from either Newbury, Sunapee or New London.

Opponents of building public boat access on that site were pleased with the commission.

“I’m looking forward to the resolution of the public access issues on the lake and I hope everybody comes to the table with an open mind,” said Rep. Karen Ebel, D-New London. “That way, we can have a realistic, honest and open discussion of the related issues.”

The Legislature failed to approve $2.1 million for the project on the 3.3-acre parcel. The Fish and Game Department spent about $415,000 over the past eight years, mostly on engineering and design work and permitting, according to Fish and Game Executive Director Glenn Normandeau.

Normandeau said he hadn’t read the order yet establishing the Lake Sunapee Public Boat Access Development Commission.

“Whatever, he’s my boss,” Normandeau said, “so we’ll go with whatever the program is.”

Sununu’s order cited “significant local opposition” and “extensive litigation” over the property.

“The commission shall research and evaluate both potential alternative opportunities for development of the Wild Goose property and potential alternative opportunities for expansion of public boat access at Lake Sunapee,” read the governor’s executive order.

Rep. Dan Wolf, R-Newbury, a project opponent, welcomed the commission.

“Maybe a very fresh perspective on looking at this would be beneficial,” Wolf said. “I’m very optimistic that the commission can find an alternative to meet the needs of all parties.”

Normandeau said his department worked with residents.

“We bent over backwards to try and take into account all of the criticism people had of the site,” Normandeau said, saying the proposal was well designed and survived court challenges.

“But at the end of the day, we are where we are,” he said.

mcousineau@unionleader.com


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