Ossipee — December 29, 2005 — The top story in Ossipee this year, in terms of the amount of interest it has generated from townspeople, has been the proposed beach at Long Sands, a state owned natural area on Ossipee Lake.
Selectman Harry Merrow announced his plan to create a town beach on the land, leasing a portion of it from the state, in the fall of 2004. His plan calls for the creation of a parking area, walkway and 600 feet of beach area along the 3,600 feet of shoreline owned by the state.
Although there was opposition to the plan from the start, voters at the annual meeting in March voted by a strong majority to pursue the project and approved $20,000 for construction.
Opponents of the proposal, including Ossipee Lake Alliance, Green Mountain Conservation Group and a number of people who live near the proposed site or have property on the lake, raised concerns over destruction of archeological resources, rare plants and plant communities in an ecologically sensitive area.
Proponents have noted that the 3,600 feet of beach is already frequented by people who have boats on Ossipee Lake, and creation of a town beach would provide access to those people who do not own property on the lake or have access to boats to visit the beach. Ossipee has no town beach on the lake.
The N.H. Department of Resources and Economic Development has said that the town must survey the land for natural and historic resources before any project can go forward. If resources are found, they have said the town must create a plan to make certain they are protected.
The first part of a natural resources inventory was conducted in the fall, and the preliminary report indicated there are two different rare plants, grassleaf goldenrod and hairy hudsonia, in or near the proposed beach.
Merrow has said the results are inconclusive and that further study is needed before the town and state can know for certain that significant natural resources would be hurt by the project.
David Smith of Ossipee Lake Alliance has said, however, that the results of the study are clear. Rare plants have been found at the proposed location, reaffirming the findings of old studies, and the state should now develop better plans for protection of the natural area.
A second natural resources inventory is to be conducted in the spring, and if the project is to move forward, an archeological survey will also be required.
Also on Ossipee Lake, milfoil continued to be an issue. This year, efforts to eradicate the weed became more organized with local businesses in Freedom and Ossipee supporting the efforts.
Although the beach proposal has held the headlines in Ossipee, perhaps a more important story for the town, however, in the long term is the acceptance of Ossipee in the N.H. Main Street Program.
In January, The N.H. Main Street Center announced that Center Ossipee would become a Main Street community. Ossipee Revitalization Group prepared the proposal to bring the community into the program.
The organization set up a board with four committees to work on various aspects of the revitalization effort; training for new members was held in April and May. Those committees focus on organization, promotion, design and economic restructuring.
They set up an office, with a part time manager, hiring Allison Lodge to fill the position in June.
Another important story in Ossipee over the past year has been the move to create cooperatives for people to own and operate the manufactured housing parks in which they live.
Sandy Ridge, once known as Pine River Campground, formed a manufactured housing park in 2004, and with the supportive vote of people at town meeting in March, the group secured a Community Development Block Grant that will help it make needed improvements to the water system and other infrastructure there. The group was awarded the grant in October.
As the year drew to a close, residents of two other manufactured housing parks, Skandia Estates, in Ossipee, and Skandia North, in Tamworth, began the process of forming their own cooperatives and buying their parks, after owner Mark McConkey announced their pending sales.
Under state law, if a manufactured housing park is to be sold, residents there have the right to form an association and make an offer to purchase the property.
Among the other highlights of the year in Ossipee:
• Ossipee Historical Society purchased the old Carroll County Court House from the county. The group plans to use the building as a meeting place and museum of Carroll County history.
The society took ownership of the building March 2, and has been working on maintenance issues as it begins to use the building for meetings and events.
• Model T Snowmobiles returned home to Ossipee in February for the Virgil D. White Snowmobile Homecoming Rally.
The snowmobile of the early 1900s was a conversion of a Model T Ford with skis and treads for use on snow. White created the conversion kits and coined the name Snowmobile.
He set up a factory in his home town of Ossipee and built Snowmobiles throughout the 1920s. Antique snowmobile enthusiasts descended on the West Ossipee site of the factory for the event, which included a chance to ride in the numerous antiques that were present.