Long Term Planning for NH Parks Continues–Public Comment Invited

The NH State Parks Advisory Council chaired by DIck Ober will hold a meeting Thursday, July 16 in Concord to discuss the 10—Year Strategic and Capital Improvement Plan and the feedback gathered at recent public sessions concerning the state park system. The Council will also receive a legislative update. The meeting will be held at 9 a.m. in the Legislative Office Building (Rooms 305-307) on North State Street, Concord. Senator Bob Odell (R-Lempster) is the committee vice-chair.

“If folks have not e-mailed their comments [about the plan],” Rep. Ricia McMahon (D-Sutton) said, “now would be a good time, as they will be considered at this meeting on July 16th, even though the deadline [for public comment] remains the 27th [of July].”

In late June, McMahon and area residents met over their concern for the future of Wadleigh State Park in Sutton. The draft plan identified  the small, local park as “under performing” and subject to “alternative management.” Although later withdrawn, the first draft of the plan also identified Cardigan State Park in Orange and the Pisgah State Park, 13,300 acres in Cheshire County amongst the 27 parks, waysides and natural areas that fail to meet the division’s “core values.”

Commissioner George Bald, Dept. of Resources and Economic Development (DRED), pulled the draft, 10-year plan in early July, however, is still accepting public comment. (For contact info, see below.) Parks and Recreation is a division of DRED.

“There was an impression in this draft plan that a potential strategy would be to divest ourselves of properties. This was never the intent of this methodology,” Bald said in a department release July 2. “The Division, in cooperation with the State Park Systems Advisory Council, will present a more comprehensive draft plan that makes that clear. The public comment period will remain open until July 27th.”

“A revised draft plan will be available for public comment in August, allowing further public input before the plan is finalized. The state park system is an integral component of what makes New Hampshire special for its residents and visitors. It is critical that we take the time now to be strategic in our thinking to ensure that these wonderful assets are available for our children and grandchildren to enjoy well in to the future.”

Rep. Suzanne “Sue” Gottling (D-Sunapee) decribes the situation for NH’s smaller parks as a “lose-lose situation.”

“We expect fees to pay for their upkeep, yet don’t charge fees at many of them. Why? The money isn’t there to pay for staff to collect fees nor can we figure out how to install (and collect from) an iron ranger for voluntary fees.”

Gottling is a member of the Resources, Recreation and Development Committee in the House. Gottling and other committee members, Chairman Judith Spang, Jim McClammer and Susan Kepner, addressed the challenges facing the parks system in a “State House Memo” titled: The future of our parks – Money is tight. Repairs are needed. Now what? published by the Concord Monitor.

As for state parks in the Sunapee-area, some think the time is over-due for a regional commission that can better involve local interests in  a master plans for Winslow, Wadleigh, Rollins, Sunapee and Pillsbury state parks.  In 2007,  McMahon introduced HB 810 to do just that, but it was unsuccessful.

“In retrospect,” Gottling said, “our bill would have begun what the Parks are now looking for several years later. We will try again.”

The State Park System Advisory Council was established to advise the Division of Parks and Recreation on issues relating to the operation and development of the state park system. The division manages 72 state parks, campgrounds, historic sites, trails, wayside and natural areas.

The impetus for producing a 10-year plan was a result of the Senate Bill 5 study commission, chaired by Odell, which directed Parks and Recreation to publish a comprehensive development plan for the state park system including a plan for capital improvements and management of facilities. The SB5 final report, released in 2006, can be viewed on-line.

To send comments about long-term planning for NH parks:

Email: johanna.lyons@dred.state.nh.us

Fax: 603-271-2629      Phone: 603-271-2553

Or mail (must be postmarked by July 27, 2009) to:

Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED)
Attn. Commissioner Bald
Division of Parks and Recreation
State of New Hampshire
172 Pembroke Road
P.O. Box 1856
Concord, NH 03302-1856

One Response

  1. […] Long-term Planning for NH Parks Continues–Public Comment Invited (SunapeeNews.com) […]

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