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Sununu hopes Gunstock will reopen soon

Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford, N.H., anouncement July 21 that its adventure park is closed until further notice. Screen capture taken July 25, 2022.;
Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford, N.H., anouncement July 21 that its adventure park is closed until further notice. Screen capture taken July 25, 2022.;

Gov. Chris Sununu praised Gunstock Mountain Resort's management staff in an interview with The Daily Sun on Friday, expressing that he hopes the mountain can find a way to reopen quickly.

This article is being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. It was first published in The Laconia Daily Sun. For more information visit

The resort closed nearly all operations Thursday following the resignations of the senior management team at a Wednesday night meeting of the Gunstock Area Commission, the board that oversees the mountain.

Sununu wrote an open letter Thursday to the citizens of Belknap County, calling for the ouster of Reps. Norm Silber, Michael Sylvia, Gregg Hough, and the newly appointed members of the Gunstock Area Commission after the management staff's resignation, which happened at Wednesday's GAC meeting. He encouraged voters to choose less extreme candidates, and vote in representatives that “care about the county.”

Mass resignations don't cool tempers in Gunstock Mountain management feud

“The fact of the matter is this Gunstock commission and these representatives have made horrible decisions, have chased out one of the best management teams in the state, and you have this great asset that is now closed and I don't know how they're gonna open,” Sununu said, adding that he was not surprised by the management team's resignations.

Two members, David Strang and Doug Lambert, were recently appointed to the Gunstock Area Commission by the county delegation. Gary Kiedaisch resigned in solidarity with the management team, leaving only four members of the commission, including Chair Peter Ness, and Jade Wood. Since the ushering in of the new guard, relations between the GAC and the management soured. Management, along with Kiedaisch, accused the "new" GAC of overstepping their bounds, as well as micromanaging and bullying staff, while the commission has argued they are simply doing their jobs.

“You have the commission and these representatives that have supported the closure of this location, they've been combative for months and months,” Sununu said.

Silber has been on record and has written publicly suggesting that Gunstock be leased out to a private operator. Silber is also the only Belknap County Delegation member that refused to sign a pledge to keep the mountain out of private hands.

“We might not always agree politically but that doesn't mean you elect representative that want to secede from the union, that want to shut something like Gunstock down,” Sununu said. “We're a couple months away from the election. I just hope that people stand up. Even if it's through the primary process, you know, move these individuals out, bring some fresh eyes, bring folks that really care about Belknap County, really care about the state of New Hampshire, really care about finding common ground solutions.”

Sununu was referencing CACR32, a bill sponsored by Sylvia and fellow Belknap County Rep. Ray Howard, that would have allowed New Hampshire voters to vote on seceding from the United States. The bill failed in a 323-13 vote.

Sununu says the best way to avoid political fracturing is to emphasize local over state government.

“We're not here to support bigger government. When you find states that do that, those are the ones that tend to fracture a lot more,” Sununu said. “We're finding common ground to send things back to the locals where you can work with your neighbors, the parents, teachers, where they all know each other on a first name basis. That's really the best model to work stuff out and avoid the political fracturing that we're seeing.”

The tensions at Gunstock controversy have been building for about a year, but until this week, the governor has not made any comment on the matter. Sununu stated he did not speak out earlier due to viewing it as a county issue.

“I've looked at what I could possibly do, I also think there was a piece of legislation that was working its way, I thought it was going to get to my desk, unfortunately it got killed,” Sununu said, referring to HB 1397, which would have made membership on the GAC an elected position, instead of being appointed by the county delegation. “That would have taken care, I think, of a lot of this problem. I think it would have created a little more checks and balance in there and we would have a better process to make sure we didn't get to a point where they could effectively drive good management out and drive the place to closure.”

To Sununu, the closure and break down of the mountain could be exactly what Reps. Silber and Sylvia want.

“Unfortunately, I believe that's part of the mission of some of the individuals on this commission. I don't think they're upset at all that Gunstock is closed. I don't think that some of them are upset at all that they drove good management out. They just have a very different vision of what that place should be.”

Sununu says he's not confident an agreement would be found between the management team and the current GAC.

“I think the current commission is broken,” Sununu said. “I think those individuals are on personal missions. I don't think they align with the vision of a vast majority of folks within Belknap County. And that's why ultimately folks have to decide what they're going to do on election day.”

In a response to Sununu's letter, Silber released a statement, calling the governor's statement “unwarranted interference” and claimed the management's resignation to be part of a “well orchestrated and well financed campaign of disinformation to divert attention from soon to be released reports from the financial and legal auditors engaged by the Gunstock Area Commission, which reports may be very damaging to the reputations of the resigned commissioner many of the resigned staff, and the governor himself.”

“You've got to be accountable for all your decisions good and bad and be able to defend it, stand behind it,” Sununu said. “Not claim conspiracy theories and seceding from New Hampshire and all this kind of frankly crazy stuff.”

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