Opponents and backers of an expansion to the Mount Sunapee ski area packed a public hearing on the state's proposed deal that would allow that expansion.
After two hours of testimony in the packed Sunapee Base Lodge, opponents of putting a new chairlift and trails in the western bowl of the mountain outnumbered proponents.
The speakers included two-time Olympian Holly Flanders, who introduced herself as a World Cup downhill winner and National downhill champion.
“I learned those basic skiing skills right here at this mountain,” she began, drawing cheers from the skiers in the crowd, which she interrupted to say, “I'm against the expansion, I'm against the expansion I'm sorry.”
Flanders went on to tell the crowd she was afraid further development would mean Sunapee would go the way of Park City, which she called “overcrowded” and “sprawling.”
The proponents who spoke, like Hess Gates from Sunapee, said the expansion would bring economic development and jobs to the region.
“The MT Sunapee jobs are family savers, they heat houses and put food on the table during the winter months,” said Gates, adding that he considered the proposed plan a reasonable balance between environmental disruption and development.
The state has proposed granting permission for the expansion, as long as the resort’s operators donate the land they would use for the expansion – as well as some additional “mitigation parcels – to the state park.
The 50-day comment period on the proposed expansion continues through the beginning of June.