The Mount Washington Commission is required to prepare a master plan every 10 years. (Screenshot | www.nhstateparks.org)
The Mount Washington Commission will hold two input sessions this month to take public comment on its master plan for the mountain’s summit, establishing the state’s vision and direction for the park over the next 10 years.
The commission is required to prepare the plan every 10 years, per New Hampshire law, to address issues ranging from needed capital improvements, collecting fees, promoting and protecting the summit, and the involvement of private groups. That includes the Mount Washington Railway Company, which runs the Cog Railway and has proposed a contentious plan to use 18 sleeper cars as lodging near the summit.
A petition opposing that project has gathered over 30,000 signatures. In June, the Executive Council approved a memorandum of understanding between the state and the company, but the project requires additional approvals before it could move forward.
“In order for the state to really support this concept we wanted an agreement in writing: Should Lizzie Station be approved by Coos County Planning Board, we would want to make sure that there was no additional development by the Cog at the summit within those 60 acres. And they agreed to that,” Sarah Stewart, commissioner of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, told the Executive Council in June. “I feel like that’s a very good compromise and a win for us,” she said.
Members of the public can weigh in on proposed development during the two public sessions scheduled for August.
“In that master planning process, we’re talking about infrastructure needs, upgrades, development, not development, where buildings should be, where they shouldn’t be. So this is all sort of part of that conversation,” Stewart said.
According to the plan, its goal is to ensure that the summit of Mount Washington “continues to be a must-see destination for visitors to the region,” while also protecting natural resources.
The summit of Mount Washington is a popular tourist attraction and economic driver in the North Country. Around 80,000 hikers visit Mount Washington per year, 50,000 access the summit by vehicle, and an additional 120,000 people ride the cog railway.
The first public session will be held at the North Conway Community Center on Monday, Aug. 22, at 7 p.m., followed by a public session the next day in Concord at the Legislative Office Building, Room 302-304.
A draft of the master plan is available on the New Hampshire State Parks website, at https://www.nhstateparks.org/about-us/commissions-committees/mt-washington-master-plan-and-resources.
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