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State pushes Balsams project forward

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter
May 22, 2019
CONCORD — The Balsams Grand Resort may see some light at the end of the tunnel. What once was a bustling resort nestled in the peaceful, quiet woods of northern New Hampshire, now sits vacant and has since it's closing in 2011. State lawmakers let it be known however, that they find this old hotel worthwhile as both the House and Senate voted to move forward with its redevelopment.

Gov. Chris Sununu signed HB 540, legislation that would allow counties to establish tax increment financing. This bill permits the establishment by the county of an assessment district for redevelopment in an unincorporated place. The developer of the Balsams, Les Otten desperately needed the $28 million bond to put towards the project, slated to cost upwards of $175 million.

Spokesman for the project, Scott Tranchmontagne said, "We'd like to thank the Governor, State Representative Edith Tucker and all those elected officials who helped this bill pass with an overwhelming majority in the House, and a unanimous vote in the Senate. There are also a number of business leaders and private citizens who helped educate people about the bill and generate support, including the North Country Chamber of Commerce and others in the region, as well as Bob Chapman and Barry Normandeau who took it upon themselves to personally collect more than 500 signatures on a petition in favor of HB 540."

Tranchmontagne said the next step is to communicate with the County Commission on the process for establishing the assessment district and issuing the bond.

"It will be a very public and transparent process and we expect to ask the Commission very shortly for guidance on how to begin. At the same time we continue to actively discuss the bond opportunity with potential buyers." he said.

He then went on to explain that it's important for all North Country residents to understand that the County's role will be only to issue the bond and administer it. The County will not be at risk or liable in any way for the bond's repayment as it is a private bond with no guarantee from the County. The County will be compensated for its administrative services.

Lastly, he said, "All of these details will be worked out with the County Commission, and we look forward to starting that discussion as soon as possible."

The Balsams is located along the old Coos Trail, now route 26 in Dixville Notch. It was first opened by George Parsons just after the Civil War as the 'Dix House' which consisted of 25 rooms and was only opened during the summer months. The property was then bought in 1895 by Henry Hale an inventor from Philadelphia. In 1918, he finished his additions which could hold up to 400 guests.

The Ballot room has been home of the New Hampshire primary vote since the 1960's where the first people to check the box and have their votes counted nationally are Dixville residents.

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