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Thread: Proposed Administration Fee for Summit Building on Mt Washington

  1. #1
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    Proposed Administration Fee for Summit Building on Mt Washington

    Looks like years of under investment on the summit are catching up.


    https://www.conwaydailysun.com/news/...80fad08d0.html

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    Senior Member jniehof's Avatar
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    Great. Now I'm going to have to carry my license plate up.

    More seriously, I suspect the end result would be somewhat higher pressure on Lakes. Little of the road and cog crowd would go down there, but it may change the "long stop of the day" for hikers.

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    Senior Member Salty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jniehof View Post
    Great. Now I'm going to have to carry my license plate up.

    More seriously, I suspect the end result would be somewhat higher pressure on Lakes. Little of the road and cog crowd would go down there, but it may change the "long stop of the day" for hikers.
    Tie it around your neck, you might inspire the new fashion statement. Personally, I think it's a fine idea, given the funding issues so many of our state agencies have. Your point about Lakes is a good one, but makes me wonder what the percentage of summiters come in from that way vs. the east. Personally I was always happy in some little nook away from everybody, but I know I'm not typical.

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    Member briarpatch's Avatar
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    Now us motorcycle riders can now be part of the ultra light crowd. Since are licence plates are smaller and therefore lighter.

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    Senior Member Mac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by briarpatch View Post
    Now us motorcycle riders can now be part of the ultra light crowd. Since are licence plates are smaller and therefore lighter.
    A 5 dollar bill is even lighter

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    Senior Member JustJoe's Avatar
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    So to fill up water bottles, use the bathrooms, buy a soda, mail a letter, etc. etc., it's going to cost me $5?
    Joe

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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustJoe View Post
    So to fill up water bottles, use the bathrooms, buy a soda, mail a letter, etc. etc., it's going to cost me $5?
    I think that is what they are saying. Certainly an interesting array of characters. IMO some of them I do not potentially find having the most neutral stance on the issue at hand. In fact some of them may actually have a hard time sitting in the same room with each other let alone make decisions collaboratively. With all the other issues on hand regarding "The Summit" this is kind of like treating a bee's nest as if it were a pinata.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

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    I do wonder why the public is having to pay to replace the Yankee building. The state may own it but the public has no access to it. It main purpose to house telecom and transmitter equipment.

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    Does the public benefit from the telecom and transmitter equipment? Or is it all privately owned and operated? Asking for a friend...

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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    $5.00 for the ability to go inside a building? Will AMC add an admission fee to enter a hut also? Is that a fee that will be on top of what the tourist who pay for the ride up on the train or accessing the road will have to pay? I'm glad my next train ride or car ride will be no time soon. As Salty suggested, finding a nook before getting above treeline would be wise. On a Presi-Traverse, I could see paying the five dollars for some water and a bathroom break. For just the standard routes, you should be able to carry all your water up from the trailhead.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NHClimber View Post
    Does the public benefit from the telecom and transmitter equipment? Or is it all privately owned and operated? Asking for a friend...
    There are public safety radio repeaters supported located on the summit to support communication networks like State Police and Fish and Game but my understanding (based on some of the news articles after the building replacement report came out last year) that the big users are commercial radio station(s) (WHOM) and multiple other commercial communications businesses.

    https://www.conwaydailysun.com/news/...7317d7181.html

    I find it interesting that the state also hosts a TV transmitter and other telecom gear on Cannon mountain with a far smaller footprint.

    My guess is some of the commercial users may argue public benefit like the radio station during public safety emergencies but ultimately they are profit making entities that trade off some public service for the right to use public airwaves.

    I am not on the commission but my limited understanding of how the summit building is operated by the state is they get some lease income from the Obs. The Obs operations is partially funded by a surcharge paid by the cog and auto road visitors. The owner of the cog gave notice of stopping paying this fee a few years ago when he bought out his partner and was objecting to the Obs Edutrips and overnights for guided winter climbers as the Cogs owner claims he has exclusive rights to the summit for overnight guests. I do not know if he resumed the payments. The state has the exclusive concession rights in the summit building and with a captive audience expect its revenue generator in a non covid year(if they can find employees to staff it which is an ongoing issue). When the power line was run up to the summit after the former WMTW power plant burned to ground the cost for the line was funded by a significant surcharge on the power usage. The majority of the power is used by the Yankee building interests with the obs probably running second. Prior to the fire, the state only maintained a seasonal presence on the summit but substantially increased it to year round after the generator fire and now has a state owned snowcat and year round access. I believe this service is covered by the electrical surcharge. There appears to have been some discussion in the past that the large power users were bearing the brunt of the summit overhead costs while using little of the services funded by them.

    In theory there must be public records available on the financial operation of the state park but I have never seen them but expect the summit commission members do. In theory NH state parks are supposed to be self supporting on operations and maintenance as a overall state department, I believe major capital upgrades are funded as line items in the state budget. IMO its an odd situation that the state provides a destination for the Cog and the autoroad without receiving enough revenue from the operations to cover O&M and capital costs for the summit operation. I expect the argument is that the state does benefit from room and meals tax paid for those being drawn to those two attractions. In the past, the owner of the Cog has claimed that the hikers are not paying their fair share but I believe that hikers are a minority of the summit users compared to the cog and autoroad. The Cog has been making big claims year after year of late of new records for number of passengers driven to the summit since the new "biodiesel" blend (90% diesel 10% animal and vegetable oil) diesel electric locomotives have taken over the majority of the trips. That big boost in summit visits appears to be the root cause of the need to replace and expand the septic system.

    I have not heard any discussion of the obvious solution of installing pay toilets on the summit.

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    Thanks PB. Very informative.

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    All the parks financial data are analyzed and published for each fiscal year and can be found here https://www.nhstateparks.org/about-us/division/reports
    Look under Annual Reports, there are multiple pages specific to Mt Wash.

    For many years I shared a winter office in Gorham with a staff member who was sort of the CFO for MWSP so have quite a bit of awareness of the details. The infrastructure and management of the physical plant that is the Sherman Adams Building, as well as winter access on the auto road is by Park Operations employees who are typically funded through use fees at a park. Since there is no park user fee funding MWSP they rely on transferring funds from the concessions/retail operations that are earned from the Retail Operations funded employees efforts/operations. The various leases already mentioned, and yes the various telcomm function fees and leases also contribute to the funding for summit facility integrity and operations. You may not be aware of how necessary that group of full time year round employees is needed to keep the snow tractors moving and the road accessible during winter with cooperation with the Obs tractor operators.
    Mt Wash has had to pay off some significant bonds over the past years- including the purchase of the summit acreage.
    So in order for the summit operations to be funded one of the elements is the telcomm revenue which can be seen as a public necessity in that light.
    The structural deficiencies of the Sherman Adams Building as well as the Yankee run deep and will require millions of dollars that will need to come from somewhere. NH Parks Parks has tried for years to model that the users should fund the facilities.

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    Thanks for the link and insight.

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    I should mention that when I first started working for NH State Parks in 1993 we were specifically forbade and reminded to never describe park charges as "Fees", they were always to be written and described as "Service Charges". It may be that I worked at Monadnock and a few of the architects of the legislation that established the State Park Fund had formerly worked on the crew at Monadnock in prior decades and were now legislators or administrators in state government, and were still close to the park. They worked hard to create a funding model in 'the NH way'.

    Over my career I sat on a few fee package revision working groups and that underlying funding theory and commitment has changed, to the point that I debated "fees" with colleagues and had to remind them of the original underlying theory of only charges for services within the past 2 years. We truly agonized over the justification of charges and how they impacted access to natural areas by the public. Times nonetheless changed out of necessity and "fees" now abound.

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