As Gunstock’s turmoil continues, the mountain’s future remains cloudy

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Gunstock Area Commission Chairman Peter Ness resigned on Friday, the latest development in the long-running dispute over control of the Belknap County-owned Gunstock Mountain ski resort.

Ness, of Belmont, had an adversarial relationship with top executives at Gunstock Mountain Resort who resigned en masse last week, complaining of poor micromanagement by the commission that oversees operations at the mountain and by lawmakers who appoint the commission.

Ness’ exit is the latest twist in the fight for control of Gunstock, which now involves not only local and county officials, but also Governor Chris Sununu.

Sununu, whose family owns the Waterville Valley resort, last week called for the removal of Ness and other commissioners, and the defeat of some lawmakers in libertarian-leaning Belknap County – including the president. from the county delegation, Representative Michael Sylvia, a member of the Free State Project – which he considers hostile to Gunstock.

“These people made bad decisions, and until they are removed from their jobs and replaced by good people who recognize the wonderful asset that is Gunstock, the county will continue to suffer,” Sununu said the week. last.

Sununu has since mocked some of the Belknap Country lawmakers involved in the Gunstock fight as “crazy”.

“There are individuals who do not believe in the government. They don’t believe in America. They don’t believe in the Republican Party. They don’t believe in anything we really stand for, so there’s really no reasoning or rationalization with them,” Sununu said on Wednesday.

Sylvia, meanwhile, questioned a $500 donation from Tom Day, the former chief executive of Gunstock, written on a check from Gunstock for Sununu’s 2020 campaign.

“Because Gunstock is owned by Belknap County, all of its funds are public funds and using public funds to support a political campaign is clearly inappropriate and possibly against the law,” Sylvia said in a statement.

Sununu’s campaign defended the contribution as perfectly legal.

The Belknap County Commission, which oversees all county finances but has no direct management of Gunstock Resort, asked Attorney General John Formella to monitor Gunstock’s bank accounts. A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office said it was reviewing several Gunstock cases it was investigating.

The Commission asked Sylvia on Thursday to schedule a meeting of the delegation of Belknap County state legislators. In addition to items dealing with resignations and dismissals, the proposed agenda contains a single item: “Process for reopening Gunstock to full capacity”.

This is a topic on the minds of a lot of people in Belknap County right now. The resort is one of the region’s largest employers and a major tourist attraction.

Gunstock ski store manager Doug Webster says if he waits much longer to order the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of ski gear he expects to sell in a normal year, he it may not be available. He says it’s hard to do business now, with no clarity on Gunstock’s future.

“We have to be able to make decisions and go, and there’s no one here to talk to right now,” Webster said.

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