PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
GILFORD – Belknap County-owned Gunstock ski area is in for some changes as its long-time general manager and its marketing director leave.
And legislation is proposed to give legislative leaders more control over the makeup of its governing board and the ski area’s money.
This week, the Gunstock Area Commission announced that Greg Goddard would be stepping down after 39 years. This announcement came after Goddard had told the public in 2019 he was retiring at the end of August 2020.
He is being replaced by former Waterville Valley mountain manager Tom Day, who also did a stint working for the Common Man helping to open the visitor centers in Hooksett on Interstate 93.
Mike Roth, marketing director for the ski area for the past four years, was fired, according to his attorney Jennifer Brook, who is seeking documents related to the termination under a right-to-know request.
Attempts to reach Goddard were not successful.
News of the change at the helm in the middle of the ski season came a day before legislation was heard on a bill to give the county legislative delegation more control over who operates Gunstock and where the money goes.
House Bill 1442 is sponsored by eight Belknap County legislators and a state senator.
Its lead sponsor is state Rep. Raymond Howard, R-Alton.
” I think the committee will come back with an ought to pass,” Howard said after Thursday’s hearing. “Going forward we want Gunstock to be able to be more flexible and more aggressive with its business model.”
The bill is before the House Municipal and County Government Committee.
By law, the county delegation (all House legislators elected from Belknap County) is charged with appointing a five-member Gunstock Area Commission to oversee Gunstock operations.
Instead of a board of directors or investors at the helm of operations, it is a group of five appointed by these legislators. At least one is supposed to be a good skier and at least one other is supposed to have knowledge of banking, according to the law.
The current law states that no more than one person from the same municipality can serve on the board but the bill looks to drop that requirement and it would add term limits.
No more than two, five-year terms per commissioner would be allowed under the proposed change.
The bill also would require at least 1.75 percent of a year’s gross operating income “shall be turned over to the Belknap County treasurer within 45 days of the receipt of and approval of the annual audit,” the bill reads.
With a view from its trails of Lake Winnipesaukee and Mount Washington to the north, Gunstock has 55 runs, six lifts, 1,400 vertical feet to ski and ride, cross country trails, snow tubing and night skiing.
Originally known as Belknap Mountain Recreation Area, it was constructed by the Works Progress Administration in 1937.
The resort had the first chairlift in the eastern United States.
The area was dedicated to the recreation needs of the county but it quickly became a vehicle for tourism development in the region.
The county authorized a revamp of its infrastructure in the mid-1980s and again in 2009 while summer amenities were added in 2016 including zip lines and a mountain coaster.
Goddard is considered the longest-tenured general manager in the ski area’s history. He began as a bartender and became the director of finance and administration in 1988, then took the helm as general manager in 1998.
The Gunstock Area Commission has a regularly scheduled meeting set for Jan. 29 at 6 p.m. at the ski area.