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Proposed Balsams redevelopment not yet a done deal

February 19, 2014
DIXVILLE — The proposed redevelopment of The Balsams "has a lot of moving parts," replied Gov. Maggie Hassan on Friday afternoon when she was asked about it.

When P. J. Noyes' senior manager production operations Steve Skinner mentioned the North County's big news, Hassan remarked, "I'm cautiously optimistic; there are a couple of things to work out."

Jack Savage, communications director at the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF), said in a Monday noontime telephone interview that the Society is still trying to find out exactly what developers Danny Dagesse and Dan Hebert have in mind now that ski and resort industry expert Les Otten of Newry, Me., has signed an agreement with them under the name Dixville Capital, LLC.

The Feb. 11 press release stated: "Closing the transaction is contingent on a number of conditions to be worked out with interested third parties.

Les Otten is quoted as saying, "The opportunities at the Balsams are significant. There are few recreation sites in North America that have such strong potential for visitors over all seasons. There's a relatively short timetable for moving forward and many hurdles to clear, but preliminary discussions are promising."

These early talks, Otten explained, have focused on big concepts as opposed to specific details.

"We are not prepared to discuss development plan details at this time because we are still working through fluid concepts," he said in a prepared statement. "We are working together and combining our resources to look at creative ideas toward restoring The Balsams as a true world-class resort that will create new jobs and invigorate the North Country's economy."

SPNHF is waiting for those detailed plans, but, Savage noted, the conservation restrictions do, in fact, contemplate commercial recreational activities. "There may also be opportunities to extend the protections that the Society has already achieved," he said.

Otten is apparently working to acquire more adjacent acreage that would allow skiing on east-facing slopes. The Wilderness Ski Area faces north, which makes it colder and windier. Additional slopes would also provide outdoor enthusiasts more variety and greater challenges.

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