Here you will find all the most up-to-date information about the land purchase designated to become Ossipee Town Beach.
Do the math - it still doesn't add up -
What aren't they telling us?
The Town of Ossipee Selectmen have signed a purchase and sale agreement to buy 53 acres in Ossipee known as Camp Sokokis for $1.2 million from Dianne & Bill Sheehan to create another town beach.
The Selectmen were granted the right to hold a special town meeting from the Superior Court of New Hampshire to allow Ossipee residents to vote as to whether to pursue this purchase.
On September 18, 2017, during the Selectmen's meeting, Chairman Richard Morgan confirmed that Dianne Sheehan had offered to donate the beach-front property to the town, and he refused the donation, stating "we had reached an agreement" to spend $1.2 million for the entire 53 acres, which at that time was only a verbal agreement.
Originally, Selectman Richard Morgan said that the purchase of Camp Sokokis and running the campground would be a way for the town to minimize the cost of the town beach to the townspeople. Now the town is saying they have a surplus of $1.42 million and that they will totally eliminate Camp Sokokis as they do not need the revenue (or tax income) from the camp to manage the bond payments.
Here are questions concerned citizens should consider:
- One concerned citizen went and measured the beach parcel that Dianne Sheehan offered to donate - and found there seems to be room for parking 36 cars - that's more than is available at Ossipee Town Hall. Here are some other Selectmen comments that still don't add up ...
- With the town's $1.42 million surplus, is spending $1.2 million on a town beach really the priority? How could that $1.2 million be better spent:
- safer playgrounds and more sidewalks?
- additional police/fire/safety services?
- do more to end the opioid epidemic?
- additional senior services?
- what other priorities?
- If this purchase is really about securing a town beach, didn't the selectmen have a duty to more fully consider Dianne's offer to donate the beach parcel that would minimize the costs and tax burden to Ossipee residents? Then that $1.2 million could be spent on other priorities.
- Why did the selectmen refuse the donated beach-front property?
- The $1.2 million price tag is actually an estimated $2.2 million once the bond is paid, and only pays for the land. Who is going to pay for all the work that needs to be done after that - construction, beach development, beach maintenance, safety, and liability insurance?
- Ossipee already has Duncan Beach for which there was no life guard all summer and the restrooms were not open.
- We apologize for misstating that the town could not afford to have Duncan Beach open - it was open however, despite a budget surplus, there was no lifeguard and the restrooms were not open this year.
- What's the impact of this purchase on future taxes for townspeople? The town is still not sharing the long-term tax plan, especially with the elimination of Camp Sokokis:
- By purchasing Camp Sokokis, the town loses roughly $30,000 in annual tax revenue every year.
- By eliminating Camp Sokokis 'in its entirety,' the town also loses all the revenue that those campers invest in the local economy - at shops, grocery stores, hardware stores, restaurants, ice cream shops, sub shops, golf courses, and more. It is estimated that Camp Sokokis campers invest roughly $380,000 into the local economy each year which will be eliminated with this plan.
- What will be the additional costs involved in transforming the camp to function as a town beach - life guards, pay house, gate, restrooms, maintenance? How will the town pay for that? The selectmen keep saying they'll cover it with the regular operating budget - but what analysis has been done to verify that?
- The Selectmen continue to change their plans:
- Initially they said the Camp Sokokis campground would help pay the costs of the bond for minimal impact on taxes.
- Now they are planning to close Camp Sokokis in 'its entirety.'
- This decision to close Camp Sokokis is in direct violation of one of the three contingencies in the purchase and sale agreement:
- "The Purchaser will continue to allow campers to rent campsites on the Property through at least the 2020 season. The rent charged by the Seller during the 2017 season shall not be increased before January 1, 2021."
- In fact, if the town approves spending $1.2 million to purchase the property, they will have to sign a restricted covenant in the deed that requires them to maintain the campground for 3 years - so why are they telling the voters that they won't be running a campground?
- And what is the plan for running a campground for 3 years?
- At the public hearing on October 30, Richard Morgan stated: "There's zero control on how many people use it any given day" ... and beyond the usual beach patrols, "we'll rely on the neighbors' help to let us know what's going on." Is that really their plan for safety, security, and maintenance?
What else are they not telling us?
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