Gov. Sununu pushes for mediation in beach conflict
Jan. 17, 2018
HAMPTON, N.H. (AP) — Gov. Chris Sununu says he's open to working with Hampton officials to improve relations as the town prepares to sue New Hampshire over state-owned Hampton beach.
The Republican governor met with officials in a public meeting Tuesday night, saying his goal was to discuss what led to the select board's September vote to sue the state. The Portsmouth Herald reports Sununu agreed changes could be made but believes the state has demonstrated its investment in the beach and town.
The beach is operated by the state, but the town responds if someone calls 911 at the beach. Hampton fire officials previously said they've spent more than $700,000 responding to emergency calls during the last four years.
Town selectmen have argued the state expects them to cover certain costs for which they are not held responsible under the original 1933 deed establishing the transfer of land from the town to the state. The board has questioned ambulance and sidewalk maintenance costs for years.
The town had set a Jan. 31 deadline for a possible lawsuit. It wasn't clear Tuesday what officials plan to do.
Hampton Selectmen Chairman Jim Waddell said the town is "stressed" by the impact of the population growth the town sees each summer when it jumps from 15,000 residents to 150,000 tourists. He said it's the town's investment in the beach, not just Hampton, that's makes the beach the "crown jewel of the state park system."
Sununu suggested the Legislature look at reconfiguring the state's rooms-and-meals tax to bring more money back to Hampton, and he said he's open to expediting the start of an $8.1 million Ocean Boulevard reconstruction project.
"We want to do our part. We believe in the partnership," he said.
Information from: Portsmouth Herald, http://www.seacoastonline.com