Balsams Reopening in 'Grave Time Jeopardy'
Developer Les Otten exchanged heated words with County Commissioner Rick Samson.
Saturday, December 15, 2018,

Les Otten

"There is no chance if we don't pass the legislation," Balsams developer Les Otten told the Coos County delegation this week.

Otten is seeking legislation that would have Coos County issue a bond for the project and use subsequent tax proceeds to pay it off. Prior legislation signed by Governor Maggie Hassan in 2015 allowed for the state Business Finance Authority to back a $28 million loan for the project, however the Balsams withdrew its application over the summer.

Otten told the delegation this week, "there is no financial risk or obligation by the county" with his plan and that "I think we are in grave time jeopardy right now."

Otten also told the delegation, "I think we can only take so many nos before any project will get to the point where one has to admit that's not gonna be in this lifetime. We're not there yet."

Coos County Commissioner Rick Samson stated that he does not support the project and does not believe the county is in a position to finance a private developer.

According to the Colebrook Chronicle, after Samson spoke, Otten "stood and looked at Samson squarely in the eyes and shouted at Samson that he had been trying for a year and a half to get Samson to come out to the property so that he could meet with him face to face and attempt to answer Samson's questions or concerns." The delegation chairman pounded his gavel to restore order and Otten left the room.

The northernmost chairlift served ski area in New Hampshire, the Balsams Wilderness operated from 1966 until 2011, when the Dixville Notch Balsams Grand Resort was shuttered. While equipment has been sold and some hotel related structures demolished, the ski lodge and triple chairlifts remain in place. Les Otten has been involved in the project since 2014.

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