Freedom — July 27, 2006 — Paul Corbin, the president of the Totem Pole Association on Pequawket Trail, came to the planning board Thursday, July 20 for a preliminary discussion about changing the schedule of winter operations. No formal applications were made.
Under the park’s contract with the town, it is allowed to operate as long as it is closed for a 31-day period in the winter, essentially keeping the park from being open year-round.
Corbin said he has been asked by the association to present a different time period for closing that would allow snowmobilers to come up. Currently, during that one-month period of time, a small group of people who pay extra can occupy the park even though the only utility is the septic system. Water and electricity have been turned off to the park by that point. The people who stay during that month are essentially winter campers, Corbin said.
The park is currently closed from March 1 to March 31 every year. He said the association is interested in changing that to a 31-day period from Nov. 15 to Dec. 15.
“There have been no violations” of non-paying people being in the park during that time period, Corbin said.
In the last year, residents of Totem Pole have come under scrutiny from some residents of the town for allegedly breaking their agreement with the town. Rumors spreading through town of park residents trying to register their cars and register to vote.
Discussions with the secretary of state revealed park residents could register to vote in Freedom, regardless of how much time they spend there, but only certain vehicles could be registered in town.
Association members told Corbin that they would like access to the park in March because it “is a good winter sports month.”
“But, if there’s heartache involved for you or for us, we don’t have to do it,” Corbin said.
Planning board chairman Brian Hampton said the change would be considered an amendment to the agreement the park has with the town. Building inspector and board member Paul Dorian wanted to know if this amendment would bring the agreement “back to ground zero” with the town, or if the amendment could be made without the rest of the agreement being reinterpreted.
Hampton said he would contact the board’s lawyer about that point. He said he has already asked if dates on the agreement could be changed but did not ask if it would require public hearings or not.
If the park starts renegotiating its agreement with the town all over again, that could require a site plan review, which Dorian said “may be opening Pandora’s box” because there would have to be postings and applications once again.
Corbin also said he would contact the park’s attorney and would decide whether or not to proceed after talking with the attorney.