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Fans of Gunstock Mountain Resort—from skiers and snowboarders to employees and neighboring business owners—are celebrating this week after the management team of this historic, county-owned New Hampshire hill promised to return to work following the resignations of two controversial commissioners.
Gunstock general manager Tom Day and his senior management team had resigned en masse on July 20 following a contentious standoff with the Gunstock Area Commission, and commissioners Peter Ness and David Strang in particular. Two weeks of turmoil ensued, jeopardizing the resort’s summer and winter programs, and resulting in calls from the state’s Republican governor, Chris Sununu, to the all-Republican Belknap County Legislative Delegation to replace several commission members.
It's been a long two weeks, but we are pleased to announce that our GM and senior management team have returned and are…
Day and staff members held firm that they wouldn’t return with Ness and Strang on the commission. On Friday, July 29, Ness tendered his resignation in a private online meeting. On Monday, Aug. 1, the Belknap County Delegation accepted Strang’s resignation by a 9-1 vote, appointing Alton resident Denise Conroy to replace him on an interim basis.
That vote cleared the way for Day and his staff, who were escorted off the Gunstock grounds by the county sheriff the day after resigning, to return to work. With Day and his team back in place, the area announced it would reopen in time for this weekend’s SoulFest 2022, a three-day music festival that typically draws 6,000 youths.
More importantly, the management team’s presence preserved the resort’s remaining summer programs, including reopening Gunstock’s Adventure Park—which offers ziplines, aerial treetop adventures, and chairlift rides—and will allow employees to prepare the ski hill for the upcoming winter season. It also put Gunstock’s master plan for future improvements back on track.
That master plan calls for numerous enhancements and expansion at the once-struggling resort, which has generated profits of $9 million and $8 million over the past two years.
The delegation’s vote prompted another response from Sununu: “Congratulations and thank you to the citizens of Belknap County for their successful efforts, perseverance, and strong advocacy. They spoke up, made their voices heard, and saved Gunstock.”
Long term, there are still concerns among Gunstock proponents that the resort was and is being targeted by political extremists—including Free Staters and libertarians—on the 18-member Belknap County Delegation. But short term, the resort, which first opened in 1936, is back in business.
The winners, of course, are those who come to Gunstock to play, relax, or make a living.