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Thread: Observatory Sues Cog

  1. #1
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    Observatory Sues Cog

    https://www.unionleader.com/news/bus...f6d836bff.html

    This could open the "can of worms" on summit rights and ownership in court.

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    Let the games begin (in court).

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    This article has some more info

    https://www.conwaydailysun.com/news/...1c16048bb.html

    The Cog threatened to put up barricades from accessing "their land" on the summit at one point, wonder if they go through with it?.

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    Sounds like more of a ploy to gain some leverage as opposed to having real merit. Wonder if the Obs members will support use of contributions for litigation. That’s a question; I’m not picking sides.

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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    I guess with Seek the Peak coming up The Ob’s figures it’s going to have some money to burn on legal fees. Better be careful being a non- profit and only at 20% of your annual goal thus far. Presby has some money to burn. IMO lot’s of posturing going on at a passive aggressive level. Too bad everyone involved can’t just grow up and play nice.
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    The other members and chairman of the Mt Washington Commission were saying the same thing two years ago but Presby has decided to kick the "hornets nest" or "the old boy network" as you see fit to describe the MWC. The attorney general did not issue the commentary on the summit ownership because he wanted to, he did it due to Presby's prior public and private comments to the MWC. The various articles point the Obs lawsuit actually being led by a member of the Obs board. Not sure how deep his pockets are. Like it or not the cog is has substantially increased the summit use of late and planning for more while the autoroad is relatively static. The septic system is overloaded by increased use which is going to be mostly attributable to increased cog use. If he doesn't push back the solutions are going to impact his and his sons future business either in increased fees to fund a solution, or capacity caps. The state has already said that summit improvements have to come up with source of revenue.

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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    The other members and chairman of the Mt Washington Commission were saying the same thing two years ago but Presby has decided to kick the "hornets nest" or "the old boy network" as you see fit to describe the MWC. The attorney general did not issue the commentary on the summit ownership because he wanted to, he did it due to Presby's prior public and private comments to the MWC. The various articles point the Obs lawsuit actually being led by a member of the Obs board. Not sure how deep his pockets are. Like it or not the cog is has substantially increased the summit use of late and planning for more while the autoroad is relatively static. The septic system is overloaded by increased use which is going to be mostly attributable to increased cog use. If he doesn't push back the solutions are going to impact his and his sons future business either in increased fees to fund a solution, or capacity caps. The state has already said that summit improvements have to come up with source of revenue.
    Not sure whom “You” is but like I said let’s play nice. I happen to agree with this post. For the record I am a long time financial supporter to the Ob’s. I’ve never ridden the Cog but have used the Auto Road via multiple modes of transportation and support capitalism especially when it comes to private ownership. As I’ve stated on this board before I am not a big fan of The AMC but not against everything they do. I’m also a NH resident and contribute to the General Fund on multiple levels. Yes it’s a hornet’s nest up there. Although it’s unfortunate that some if not all parties involved cannot agree to disagree and come up with a solution to solve their problems. They all have an interest to come to a solution that benefits all.
    Last edited by skiguy; 06-06-2019 at 05:12 PM.
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    Senior Member CaptCaper's Avatar
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    Sounds like the Cog has got them checked according to the article I read at the Daily Sun. And that the Obs wants money being the Cog is thriving. Typical reactions. I pity the Cog always did. People picked on them about everything for many years. Never thanked them for helping hikers,etc. Being the grand operation for 150 yrs of NH she will prevail.
    Last edited by CaptCaper; 06-06-2019 at 07:41 PM.

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    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptCaper View Post
    Sounds like the Cog has got them checked according to the article I read at the Daily Sun. And that the Obs wants money being the Cog is thriving. Typical reactions. I pity the Cog always did. People picked on them about everything for many years. Never thanked them for helping hikers,etc. Being the grand operation for 150 yrs of NH she will prevail.
    I assume this is the article you referenced: https://www.conwaydailysun.com/news/...1c16048bb.html

    Without seeing the full agreement, it's hard to pass judgement, but I'd be curious if the Auto Road is still paying for its visitors. The MWO site says admission is included with the cost of the Auto Road ticket, but doesn't mention the Cog. In July of 2018, the Daily Sun reported Presby stating they sent 120k visitors, and the auto road sent 150k. The museum is only open when the Sherman Adams building is open (which is synced up to the Cog/Auto Road schedules).

    So, we assume that's from May - October (5 months/21 weeks). If 1000 hikers summit every weekend day, and 200 every weekday (let me know if you have better numbers), then that's ~60k hikers that could visit the museum (and my assumptions are likely very high). At that rate, that's 330k visitors, of which at most ~18% are hikers. The next question is, what percentage of users visit the museum. It seems that the agreement expects 50% of the users of the cog and auto road to visit ($1/passenger is a 50% discount). That rate might be high, but regardless, I suspect the rate of hikers visiting is much lower than the non-hiking crowd. If hikers visits at 10% the rate of non-hikers (e.g. 5% of hikers and 50% of non-hikers, or 1% of hikers and 10% of non-hikers), then ~2% of visitors are hikers. The only time I went in was when I drove up, and that was the 'old' museum, and it was packed with non-hikers (mostly families). Perhaps others have their own experiences that differ.

    The point here is that the Cog is claiming that because some hikers allegedly visit the museum for free, that they shouldn't have to honor their agreement. This seems ridiculous, as I suspect the overhead of managing a system (to ensure that Cog and Auto Road users present their ticket, and that hikers pay) would cost a lot more than the hiker revenue it would bring in, and it would degrade the experience for users. The cog's argument in the paper is pretty weak, but again, it all depends on the contract language.
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    Senior Member Raven's Avatar
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    Love when people get into arguments over who has the rights to land that was stolen from natives.

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    Did the capital project that improved the Obs’ Summit Museum also included improvements to the rest of the Sherman Adams Building? If not, then why would the Auto Road or the Cog agree to collect the Museum's entrance fees for them? It seems to me that this Museum funding issue is a separate from the problems caused by increased summit visitors.

    It is unreasonable to have the State collect a fee to enter the Sherman Adams building as a funding mechanism to pay for improvements required due to increase visitiations. Then the Cog and Auto Road could decide if they want to give their customers "free tokens" to enter the building. Hikers would have to pay to enter as well. We pay to hike Monadnock, same difference.

    Then anyone wanting to enter the Museum pays an additional fee to the Obs.
    Last edited by Tom_Murphy; 06-07-2019 at 01:05 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TJsName View Post
    that's ~60k hikers that could visit the museum (and my assumptions are likely very high).
    I've been up there roughly a dozen times and never been into the museum... so I think your "assumptions are likely very high".

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    Obs is a lessee of the State Park. State owns the summit septic system, which is a relatively new ( @2008) above-ground tankless system engineered in AK for Alaskan tundra conditions. Nothing about OBS suit has anything to do with the septic situation, as Obs neither owns nor maintains that system.

    Presby's dealings with the other members of the MWC have become decidedly pugilist, hard to figure how Wayne thinks he's going to benefit from making sworn enemies within the necessary Summit partnerships. A quick look at the Cog ticket rates along with their media-published ridership makes it very plain that the Cog is not the po'boy of Mt Washington

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    IMO the rational for the auto road and cog to subsidize the obs museum is to supply an attraction at the summit for the visitors when weather is not so good. If it is a clear sunny day at the summit, I expect that the museum does not get a lot of visitors, on the other hand if the summit is in the clouds and drizzle whch frequently form in the afternoon I expect the number of museum visitors increases. I dont think the $1 fee is actually to pay a per visitor fee as much as to ensure that it is there if the visitor wishes to visit it. My limited understanding of the history of the fee was it was instituted to help the obs pay for increased summit bills that occurred when the TV station shut down their transmitter. Unlike many of the other summit users, they are a non profit organization so they can not charge fees off to their profit. Not sure how the economics worked previous with the TV station running the powerplant but when the new powerline was built, the cost for the power used had and still has a significant surcharge to pay for the capital expense of running the line up to the summit and ongoing state of NH operating expenses. I do remember there were complaints by the still operating radio stations and communications repeaters that the surcharge was excessive as they were paying the bulk of the expenses for the summit via the surcharge for tourist services they did not need.
    Apparently the state's non tourist season staffing increased substantially in recent years as the state now has responsibility to maintain the standby generators at the summit. The obs also has reduced their participation in S&R, in the Goselin era, the obs seemed to be the initial first responder to potential emergencies, this role has reportedly substantially reduced.The obs now has an official statement that they are unable to participate in rescues as they do not have the training or equipment. I have seen reference that the state now have a snowcat for summit access but havent confirmed it. In general under Mike Pelchet's management of the summit after the generator fire, the amount of summit visits by the state increased and all the expenses get added to the surcharge. Many people do not understand that the NH State Park systems is self funded with no state subsidies, they can transfer money between operating units and do get appropriations for capital expenses but the expectation is that each park is at least self supporting so the state expects the summit users will pay the bills.

    The reality is that the obs was in very rough financial condition for several years that coincided with the generator fire. There were reportedly a couple of years where the staff was laid off en masse and then rehired due to budget issues. I have no doubt that the fee agreement was a lifeline to the obs by the ownership of the autoroad and the prior ownership of the Cog. It does seem that since the current Cog owner bought out his long term partner and now has 100% control in his family that he has gotten far more vocal and argumentative with the other members of the MWC.

    Note that the autoroad was running to the summit a few year before the cog. As the attorney general's ownership summary had stated a few years ago, all the original deeds and surveys of the area are suspect with overlapping claims of ownership and rights to the summit. Even if there is one entity that does have clear title there are numerous overlapping rights and past precedent. I expect no one except for the lawyers litigating the case would be happy with a court settlement.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 06-08-2019 at 05:25 AM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member jniehof's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    As the attorney general's ownership summary had stated a few years ago, all the original deeds and surveys of the area are suspect with overlapping claims of ownership and rights to the summit. Even if there is one entity that does have clear title there are numerous overlapping rights and past precedent. I expect no one except for the lawyers litigating the case would be happy with a court settlement.
    The optimist in me thinks that getting this all out into court and sorted might "clear the air" and enable a more harmonious relationship. The pessimist remembers the summit rights issues have been "settled" several times before but it never seems to "stick". The fight over the location of PNSY comes to mind.

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