Executive Council voted 3 to 1 to approve the long awaited plan.
Wednesday, April 6, 2016, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
The New Hampshire Executive Council voted 3 to 1 to approve the Mount Sunapee West Bowl expansion, the Union Leader's Dan Tuohy reports. Democrat gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern voted against the proposal, while Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu, CEO of Waterville Valley, recused himself.
The New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner Jeff Rose released his final approval of the project two weeks, significantly reducing the amount of new skiable terrain since his 2015 draft decision. Rose briefed the Governor and Council last week, following the Council's tabling of the item.
With asset owner CNL's future uncertain, it is not yet known when construction will begin.
Approved plans for the West Bowl expansion, estimated last year at $13.85 million, include 56 acres of new skiable terrain, a high speed quad, a novice surface lift, a new base area with a 1,250 person comfortable carrying capacity featuring parking and a 12,500 square foot base lodge. The present day Sunapee Express Quad would likely be relocated to the West Bowl and would be replaced on the main mountain by a new high speed six pack.
2015 Draft West Bowl Proposal
2016 Approved West Bowl Proposal
The new complex was previously targeted for a 2018-19 season debut, with some terrain potentially opening earlier, however it is not known how the rough 2015-16 winter and asset holder uncertainty will impact it. Lift projects on the existing ski area, involving the relocation of the former Sun Bowl Quad to North Peak, will not be taking place in 2016.
The private funding source of the expansion has not yet been announced. Mount Sunapee Resort's privately owned assets are currently held by CNL Lifestyle Properties, which has been attempting to sell its ski holdings.
According to Rose's decision letter, some 410 acres of private land, including the 150 acres containing the new ski terrain, would be donated to the state. No private development would be allowed on those tracts.
Rose also approved adding another 10 year option to the lease. Mount Sunapee Resort is currently operating under a 20 year term through 2018 with two 10 year options.
According to an Economic Impact Report prepared for the ski area operators by RKG Associates, Inc. of Dover, the expansion would initially increase skier visits by some 76,500 per season. $4.5 million in taxable property would be added, including $3.8 million in Goshen. The resort's town, county, and education property tax bill would increase from $132,029 to $234,188. The expansion would also potentially increase in Rooms and Meals Tax, Business Profits Tax, and payroll tax revenue.
Lease payments to the state would increase by an estimated $150,000 per year in 2019. Mount Sunapee Resort currently pays over $600,000 per year to the state, adding up to some $8.5 million since the start of the lease. 100% of the lease funds are used to pay Cannon Mountain ski area's debt. Increased debt spending at Cannon has placed the account in arrears.