New Hampshire ski area Gunstock ceased most operations today following a contentious public meeting last night. The county-owned resort’s management resigned en masse, citing treatment by a group of citizens appointed to oversee the ski area. Tom Day, Gunstock’s President and General Manager, tendered his resignation along with other managers including the Chief Financial Officer, Director of Human Resources, Director of Marketing, Director of Resort Services, Director of Snow Sports and Director of Facilities. One of five Gunstock Area Commissioners also resigned. The Laconia Daily Sun reported employees’ exits from the property were overseen by the Belknap County Sheriff’s Department this morning.
The five Gunstock Area Commissioners are appointed by Belknap County’s State Representatives. The Commission has become increasingly involved in day-to-day operations of the ski area in recent years. “Obviously there’s been a lot of change and a lot of you think you can do the job to be able to run the resort,” said Day at the beginning of the meeting. “I know there’s been some discussion about what my role is as far as who runs the ski area and who doesn’t. I feel that my role here is diminished and you probably don’t need me,” he said, offering to stay for two weeks to facilitate a transition.
The ski area, which features five chairlifts and a 1,600 foot vertical drop, has not required taxpayer funds for operations the last 12 years and remits 1.75 percent of its revenue to the county. Just last year Gunstock reported record revenue and season pass sales and announced a major expansion project including new terrain and lifts.
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, himself a former ski resort general manager, criticized the commission and offered support to employees. “Gunstock is truly one of the jewels of the lakes region, but what has been happening over the last year surrounding the Gunstock Area Commission’s inability and unwillingness to work collaboratively with the management team at Gunstock is deeply concerning,” the Governor wrote. He went on to offer employees jobs at state-owned Cannon Mountain or the Parks Department should a resolution not be reached at Gunstock.
The mountain’s summer activities, which include lift rides on the Panorama Express, a mountain coaster and zip line, are closed until further notice. “We truly apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our guests,” said a notice posted on Gunstock’s social channels and signed by Gunstock Mountain Resort Employees.
Update: Thursday afternoon the Gunstock Area Commission issued a statement condemning staff members for resigning and pledging to reopen as soon as possible. “At the Gunstock Area Commission’s monthly meeting last night, the GAC planned discussions with management about ongoing expansion plans. Instead of discussing those plans, the GAC was met with an unsolicited and spontaneous resignation by senior managers and a commissioner,” the statement read. “In light of last night’s unprecedented actions, the GAC is developing plans to ensure Gunstock’s continued operations as seamlessly as possible. Gunstock has an important legacy in the ski industry’s history and the GAC intends to maintain that legacy,” the Commission wrote.