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Moultonboro selectmen, Castle representatives to hold discussions

May 26, 2010
MOULTONBORO — Representative from Castle in the Clouds and the Board of Selectmen will discuss plans and issues as the board considers whether to give the Lakes Region Conservation Trust tax-exempt status.

The board has held off on voting to grant the LRCT tax-exempt status pending information and discussions with the Trust and Castle in the Clouds.

The Castle is now being managed under the Castle Preservation Society, a separate nonprofit entity and both organizations are working on subdividing the Castle and buildings from the rest of the property.

Residents have spoken out I support of granting tax-exempt status to the LRCT. The Planning Board also voted in favor of supporting the trust's tax-exempt status.

"As a resident I believe the LRCT has done a profound job in helping the town," said resident Natt King. "I think the LRCT ought to be treated as the other nonprofit entities in the town."

King expressed concern that the Trust's response to the Ossipee Park Road project was a major factor in the discussions.

Board Chair Joel Mudgett said the LRCT's role in Ossipee Park Road was only a point that was brought up and not a main deciding factor. Mudgett said the Board "found it interesting" that no one from the LRCT could find the time to visit the Selectmen during discussions on the repairs at Ossipee Park Road, though when discussions started about the group's tax-exempt status a representative could be there in a week.

LRCT President Don Berry said the Trust did respond to the Board on Ossipee Park, sending a letter saying it would not contribute funds to the rebuilding of the road.

"We did get something, but it took a long time to get it," Mudgett said.

"I am not ready to say Lakes Region Conservation Trust is a bad thing for the town," said Selectman Betsey Patten. "That's not even what I wanted to say."

Selectman Ed Charest, who is also selectmen's representative to the Planning Board, said there were concerns about how long the Trust took to submit a site plan for the area of the Castle.

"It took us, what, two years to get a site plan," Charest said. "It felt like they're up there are they're doing everything and we'll just ignore the town."

Castle Preservation Society Chair Anne Hackl attended the meeting with other members of the society's board of directors. Hackl said she wanted to focus on the future and work with the town.

"Until eight days ago we essentially had no standing," Hackl said. "We are looking forward. We are going to bend over backwards to be communicating with you all. We would like more than anything for your people to understand what we're doing, who we are, what our dreams are and how we envision this as an integral part of the community."

Hackl offered to take the Board on a tour of the Castle and discuss plans and issues.

Charest said he officiated weddings at the Castle when he first moved to the area, including the wedding of one of Thomas Plante's descendents. He said he also noted how the condition of the building had deteriorated.

"It's a stunningly beautiful place and it has such history to it," Charest said. "I'm glad the preservation society is separate from the LRCT. I think having their own board to run it was a really good idea in my opinion. Please keep us informed of what you're doing."

The board and Castle representatives have scheduled a tentative meeting date of June 1 to tour the castle and talk.

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