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Issues between Hampton and state hashed out in public forum

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent

January 16. 2018 11:43PM
A woman walks along Hampton Beach Tuesday afternoon. Town officials want to sue the state, saying they are contributing enough for EMS services and sidewalk repairs at the state park. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)



DRED Commissioner Jeffrey Rose, Gov. Chris Sununu and Asst. DOT Commissioner listen during Tuesday's forum. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

HAMPTON — Gov. Chris Sununu said he brought “The A-Team” to Hampton for a public forum Tuesday because he wanted to talk about issues residents and business owners face in a non-litigious setting.

“There’s a reason I’m not home with my kids having dinner right now. This is important,” Sununu said.

Since September, the town has discussed suing the state over who is responsible for ambulance coverage at the beach and maintenance of Ocean Boulevard sidewalks, among other issues.

“I don’t see why there would be a lawsuit,” Sununu said at the forum. “I’ve heard a lot of names attached to this potential lawsuit that apparently didn’t even show up tonight, which I’m quite appalled by. I’ll speak very directly; I think that speaks very clearly as to the legitimacy of the complaints being filed.”

Hampton’s attorney was authorized to file court paperwork on Jan. 31.

John Nyhan, president of the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce, said he wants to see the town work with officials in Concord.

“I, as a person in Hampton, don’t really understand what this is about. I don’t want to see the town of Hampton sue the state,” Nyhan said.

About 40 people filled a conference room at Sea Shell Stage for the meeting with Sununu and officials from the Division of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Resources and Economic Development.

Flooding was a major topic. During the ferocious nor’easter earlier this month, extremely high tides swamped neighborhoods behind the beach. As many as 11 people had to be evacuated from their homes; 10 people were rescued from their vehicles as floodwaters rose quickly.

Selectman Regina Barnes, a resident of Hampton for 40 years, said people who live on Route 1A took a hit during the recent storm. She wants to work with the state to study the shoreline and push forward some projects in the 10-year highway plan to protect homes and businesses.

Sununu said the highway plan will be delivered to legislators this week.

“That might be an opportunity there,” Sununu said. “The flood that we just experienced was incredibly severe. Unfortunately, the state doesn’t qualify for potential emergency disaster relief funds from the federal government.”

DRED Commissioner Jeffrey Rose said over the last eight years, the state has invested about $20 million at Hampton Beach State Park.

“It is one of the premier state parks, and it’s also one of the premier beaches, really throughout the country, and certainly here in the Northeast. We take a great deal of pride in that,” Rose told the crowd.

Rose said there are two public forums held every year for state and local officials to talk with members of the public about matters of interest.


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