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Thread: Hotel on Mt Washington??!!

  1. #16
    Senior Member roadtripper's Avatar
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    Please sign this petition if you are against the idea:

    https://www.change.org/p/hiking-comm...lg-bing-no_msg

  2. #17
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    Unfortunately the country seems to be headed in this direction. All development is good development. The resource, in this case the mountain, is there to be used, or in my language, exploited. Preservation, appreciation, low impact uses, even the concept of eco-tourism is being eclipsed by $$$$ signs.

    I don't necessarily buy your contention, yes there is fairly broad support for motorized recreation development in the county and previously Coos County had very weak if nonexistent planning and zoning rules in effect. The Balsams project changed that substantially and the county created and enacted a fairly comprehensive approach to review projects, some times much to the annoyance of the Balsams developer. Even the proposed Great Glen project had to go through extensive review this time. John Scarinza the head of the Coos county planning board is from Randolph a town that has very tight development restrictions and also the town that created the largest town forest in NH to protect the viewshed of the northern presidentials. Granted the Coos county commissioners are far more focused on short term gain versus long term impact but I expect even they would be careful to tread into what will become a political landmine. One of the very obvious demarcation points in the area is US Rt 2, the county generally feels that if it happens north of RT2 few will notice while generally they tread far more lightly if south of RT2. The development will be particularly front and center from the Mt Washington Hotel complex, if was formerly owned by the Cog group who made a substantial profit when they sold it but I expect that the large real estate entity that owns the Mt Washington hotel and ski complex now is going to object to the potential visual impact of additional development on the cog (unless they get a piece of the profits).

    Ultimately it comes down to that in order to sell the concept, the Cog has to sell an experience that is unlike those available in the area and the experience they are selling are extensive views west on a shoulder of Mt Washington. They aren't marketing to the general hiking public, they are marketing to affluent customer and rail fans. That means getting the buildings up above the trees on the ridgeline to get the long views and that means a potential for major impact to the view shed. With careful architecture the visual impact to the surroundings can probably be softened by the use of appropriate building materials but its still going to be present and I expect particularly noticeable at night where it will be another bright spot on the side of what was dark landscape. The countys new zoning and planning regulations are going to provide a framework for review but unless regional and national organizations bring in some publicity this proposal could get through. Add in the spotlight of national and regional press and its far more unlikely.

  3. #18
    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey J View Post
    Unfortunately the country seems to be headed in this direction. All development is good development. The resource, in this case the mountain, is there to be used, or in my language, exploited. Preservation, appreciation, low impact uses, even the concept of eco-tourism is being eclipsed by $$$$ signs.
    I'm not seeing this. Use a long term perspective. From 150 years ago until fairly recently, rampant development was taking place all over the mountains. Numerous highways, summit hotels, castles, etc., remain from that era, none of which would ever be considered or permitted today. (Remember Whiteface; Prospect; Equinox; Mansfield; even little Pack Monadnock; and all the existing development on Washington.) Heck, IIRC over 100 men were killed in 1870 to build the Mount Washington Highway as a tourist attraction. Imagine today proposing to pave a highway to the top of a mountain and kill 100 workers in the process - not on anyone's radar, anywhere across the spectrum.

  4. #19
    Senior Member dug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCD View Post
    I'm not seeing this. Use a long term perspective. From 150 years ago until fairly recently, rampant development was taking place all over the mountains. Numerous highways, summit hotels, castles, etc., remain from that era, none of which would ever be considered or permitted today. (Remember Whiteface; Prospect; Equinox; Mansfield; even little Pack Monadnock; and all the existing development on Washington.) Heck, IIRC over 100 men were killed in 1870 to build the Mount Washington Highway as a tourist attraction. Imagine today proposing to pave a highway to the top of a mountain and kill 100 workers in the process - not on anyone's radar, anywhere across the spectrum.
    Interesting comment, and one I agree with...when talking of the mountains only (which is what this is about, I know).

    From a valley perspective, much more today than years ago.

  5. #20
    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCD View Post
    I'm not seeing this. Use a long term perspective. From 150 years ago until fairly recently, rampant development was taking place all over the mountains. Numerous highways, summit hotels, castles, etc., remain from that era, none of which would ever be considered or permitted today. (Remember Whiteface; Prospect; Equinox; Mansfield; even little Pack Monadnock; and all the existing development on Washington.) Heck, IIRC over 100 men were killed in 1870 to build the Mount Washington Highway as a tourist attraction. Imagine today proposing to pave a highway to the top of a mountain and kill 100 workers in the process - not on anyone's radar, anywhere across the spectrum.
    Very good point. I often wonder why the opposition to adding something new doesn't translate to support for removing some old? If a building would so mar the landscape, why not push for the huts removal? To me it becomes a question of value and function. If the AMC huts didn't allow day service, then I suspect public opinion would plummet. If this new structure becomes a functional stop for hikers, then I don't see how it would be significantly different than the other structures along the way. For me personally, I would prefer there were no buildings above treeline.
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  6. #21
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    This is probably not much different, conceptually, than a lot of eco-tourism destinations which I avoid because of my perception that they offer somewhat artificial notions of an outdoor experience. Nonetheless, there are some intriguing hotels/lodges in fascinating places ... if only they were closer to my budget ... and this may be one of them. Overall, I'm not wild about the idea.

    I do enjoy thinking about the technical issues behind such a facility. That is the weather side of Mt. Washington and even during season there are many unpleasant days and, at best, obscured visibility. So there are marketing issues, too, and the public will catch on when they learn that "most of our stay consisted of horizontal rain and sleet hitting our faces like thousands of darts."

  7. #22
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    Grandfathered usage and tradition is normally the rational for leaving existing structures and uses in place. The cog and the autoroad as well as development on the summit predate the WMNF by quite bit. I expect that when the WMNF was purchasing land it was on a willing seller basis and expect that both the autoroad and cog insisted on keeping full title to the land that they were dependent on. As AMC found out 20 years ago operating private facilities on government land introduces the chance that a change in the political winds can put them out of business. Keeping it on private land definitely allows the owner to retain far more control of their destiny. Reportedly one of the reasons for the AMC to create the Maine hut system was to own the land under their huts so that they didn't have to worry about some future entity telling them they have to leave.

    In the late eighties the Cog was sold to the current owners and they promptly started advertising lift service to Tuckerman's Ravine via the Cog to the extent that billboards were advertising this service and I believe reservations were being taken. This was quite controversial and the concept was dropped when reportedly threats were made by the US government regarding the right to operate coal fired locomotives. The next attempt at monetizing the cog was using the cog for lift service to trails within the right of way. By that time the Cog owner had picked up the Mt Washington Hotel at bankruptcy auction and possibly the ski area. There was some "wink wink nod nod" regarding this approach as it was widely expected that skiers would travel onto FS land for backcountry adventures. I believe the experiment failed after a poor snow season but since skiing isn't my thing it may have been for another reason. The most recent successful effort to extract more cash out of the asset is the switch to biodiesel electric locomotives to replace the majority of the coal fired units. They can run far more trips to the summit with the diesels with far less maintenance and manpower. They still run the steam units during less busy hours and charge a premium to satisfy the rail fans. This change out took a few years and most likely bumped up the revenue so the owners are probably trying to find a home for the extra profits.

    Given that the cog is proposing work on private land I expect the only way the federal government could prevent them from building the facility is to take the land by eminent domain or somehow compensate the cog owners for loss of economic potential related to the proposed development. There is a frequently litigated concept of "takings" where a federal or state government regulation "takes" value from private land. An example of this is if a endangered species is discovered on private land, the government effectively "takes" the value of the private land without compensating the owner. One example is someone buys piece of waterfront property for a camp and an eagle builds a nest. The owner is precluded from building as it may disturb the eagle.

    There is another concept referred to a "Greenmailing" that could conceivably apply to this proposal where a land owner threatens to develop property unless they are paid for the development rights. It has been quite lucrative for forest landowners all over Maine and NH including the Saddleback AT purchase and the more recent Mahoosuc AT purchase from Dillon. Cynically the Cog proposal could be just a case of trolling for some entity to write a check to the Cog for them not to do the project that they really were not that interested in doing to begin with. I don't think this would apply to Presby as he is serial entrepreneur with multiple businesses in the region but one never knows.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 12-02-2016 at 03:24 PM.

  8. #23
    Senior Member una_dogger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadtripper View Post
    Please sign this petition if you are against the idea:

    https://www.change.org/p/hiking-comm...lg-bing-no_msg
    Signed. What a terrible idea!
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  9. #24
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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  10. #25
    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    I do enjoy thinking about the technical issues behind such a facility. That is the weather side of Mt. Washington and even during season there are many unpleasant days and, at best, obscured visibility. So there are marketing issues, too, and the public will catch on when they learn that "most of our stay consisted of horizontal rain and sleet hitting our faces like thousands of darts."
    I would think this alone would kill the concept. If it is to be a more "upscale" experience with dining and such what exactly will people be willing to pay for a day/night enshrouded in fog with no amenities/activities? And if it winds up being more of a draw for hikers than tourists it is hard to imagine how they'd make money with it considering what I assume will be some pretty expensive construction costs for a building keeping people safe in that environment.

    And also, is the train capable of running in all weather? What happens if I go up to my room on a nice Friday for the night and I have to stay there for 4 days to ride out a horrendous storm? Do I have to pay for an additional three nights? Is the hotel forced to feed me for free? Do they cancel my FRI reservation after I have traveled all the way there in anticipation of the storm? Seems like a logistical nightmare trying to do this and turn a profit.
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  11. #26
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Forgive me, if I seem blinded by irony. The AMC has two structures built even higher, in even more sensitive tundra, they are accepted. The Cog wants to build on their own property to further enhance their bottom line and Whoa Nelly !!!!! hold on, wait, stop right there, they cant do that. What's good for the goose and all that. They should get their permit, or ALL buildings should be disallowed, fair is fair.

  12. #27
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    The obs is already running the "Mt Washington B&B" (much to the consternation of past staff members). There are quite a few volunteers (including at least one VFTT member) who were enlisted over the years to take the load off the staff. The cog would probably put in some language that guests may have to walk down as the obs does. They would most likely advertise home of the worlds worst weather as a selling point. AMC also has quite bit of practice with weather issues.

    I knew an individual associated with AVSAR who was involved with a practice run to deal with a cog accident. The owners of the cog didn't want it advertised that there was going to be disaster drill so the rescue organizations officially called it plane crash rescue practice which happened to follow a script that would be identical to a cog accident. It will be interesting to see how various volunteer agencies would like the added responsibility to support a for profit operation (although arguably AMC is effectively already a burden shouldered by the same agencies).
    Last edited by peakbagger; 12-02-2016 at 03:25 PM.

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by skiguy View Post
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  14. #29
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Maybe the eventual plan is for a tram. Then they can operate all year long.https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=V-89jTsxCzU
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  15. #30
    Junior Member Chachie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey J View Post
    Unfortunately the country seems to be headed in this direction. All development is good development. The resource, in this case the mountain, is there to be used, or in my language, exploited. Preservation, appreciation, low impact uses, even the concept of eco-tourism is being eclipsed by $$$$ signs.
    I AM buying/seeing this. Between the AMC, the State of New Hampshire and private parties (the Cog) Mt. Washington has been converted from NE's highest peak to a money making machine. Nothing like climbing to the top of what could be a place of monumental solitude and spectacular visions, to instead be greeted with belching exhaust fumes, the roar and rumble of machinery and (my personal favorite) the effluence of human garbage.

    Maybe next an helipad? or perhaps a casino? additional parking lots?

    It's my earnest hope and dream that by some miracle, one day, a great wind would blow every stick of man-made bullsh*t off the top of that mountain; and that the true Spirit of Agiocochook may once more inhabit the summit.

    Until then it's all hotdogs and choo-choo trains.


    Just my opinion.
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