Westward Shores Campers Nervous, Owner Cautiously Optimistic

Ossipee – July 9, 2009 – Absent a last minute reprieve, Westward Shores Campground and Marina will go on the block in a foreclosure sale this Friday morning at 11 a.m. But principal owner Charlie Smith is still betting the sale won’t take place.

“I don’t believe there will be a sale, but beyond that I can’t comment specifically,” Smith said by phone yesterday, adding that he has “too much equity” in the business to give up trying.

Smith said he’s been working to unravel the financial tangle that led to last month’s foreclosure of the big lake business he’s owned since 1999.

In a June 8 interview with Ossipee Lake Alliance, Smith said the foreclosure was tied to the banking crisis. His mortgage was sold to several other banks and ended up with investors who triggered a provision in the contract to accelerate payments.

“That’s how it started, but it’s all being resolved,” he said at the time.

One month later, campers aren’t so sure. As the clock ticks toward the deadline, some say they’re nervous about the campground’s future and their status there if there is a change in ownership.

“We’ve already paid for the summer season,” said one camper who, like many others, agreed to speak on the record only if he wasn’t quoted by name.

“I’m worried if the camp changes hands we’ll be kicked out by the new owner,” he added.

Chief among the campers’ complaints is what they say is a lack of communication from Smith and his partner, John Hardie.

“We’re all in the same boat,” said a long-time resident from Massachusetts, “but there’s been no meeting, no email, nothing.”

“It’s so quiet it’s almost like the whole issue has gone away. That has everyone guessing.”

The relative silence is in contrast to last month when relations between the owners and campers boiled over into cyberspace as angry camp residents unloaded publicly on Smith and Hardie by posting comments on the Ossipee Lake Alliance website.

The anger developed after campers returning in the spring were given a memo saying the owners planned to condominiumize the campsites in part to protect the investments of the many campers who had improved their sites and added permanent fixtures.

The memo asked campers to pay a $500 deposit by June 1 to hold their site for later purchase. Those who chose not to make the deposit risked losing their site to another buyer, the memo suggested. An information meeting was scheduled and then canceled in a series of confusing emails, and the June 1 deadline was scrapped, ending the communication chain from the owners.

As campers were adjusting to the news about the condo plan, Ossipee Lake Alliance reported that the Boston Globe had published a foreclosure notice on the property saying it would be sold at auction on July 10.

The reaction was immediate, with campers and former campers posting comments online accusing Smith and Hardie of everything from deceptive practices to high prices to deferred maintenance. Some posters claimed the condo plan had no support from campers and was a desperate attempt by the owners to raise cash to prevent the foreclosure.

After enduring days of online assaults, Hardie responded to the comments by saying the owners had made more than $2 million in infrastructure improvements to the camp since purchasing the business. He challenged anyone with a grievance to call him directly or meet with him in person.

Speaking with the Alliance yesterday, Charlie Smith acknowledged that there has been a lack of information but said it would jeopardize his negotiations to say more.

As for last month’s online attacks, he was philosophical, saying it was the work of a small number of disgruntled campers, some of whom have already been ejected from the campground. He said his door is always open for people to talk with him directly.

Even if Smith is successful in retaining ownership, the status of his plan to sell campsites as condominium units is unclear. While the Ossipee Planning Board approved the plan last month, DES denied it in April, although the agency says it will reconsider the plan upon receipt of additional information and a $150 per site conversion fee.

In the meantime, some campers say they are planning to attend Friday’s sale if they can get away from work. Just to see what happens.

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28 Comments

  1. Still not a happy camper 12 years ago July 9, 2009

    As you know, A big part of the campground was flooded last weekend from the runoff of the mountains. Some sights had 2 1/2 feet of water in them almost in the campers. This happens Every year but usually worse. How can any Bank Loan Money to anyone that wants to buy into a known flood zone!! Also with all these Money issues and Forclosure nitice.Who in their right mind is going to pay Mr. Smith Septembers payment. ALL of us campers I know are wondering the same thing about Septembers and further payments. Is anyone stupid enought to fork over their hard earned income to someone who will sooner or later loose our so called investment to someone we hope atleast has half a brain.

    If Mr. Smith some how makes out this time, Is anyone going to pay future payments to him?

    Please Comment. or am I the stupid one.

  2. TO SHEA 12 years ago July 9, 2009

    I will not send Chas anymore money until I have some kind of guarantee. “What kind of guarantee, I dont know”

  3. Mike 12 years ago July 9, 2009

    My Trailer was flooded last weekend bad, I called my agent and they said the insurance company will take care of this but most likely they are now going to drop me.. I wish i knew that the campground Flooded. I would have stayed away!!!

    My loss.
    Mike

  4. T 12 years ago July 9, 2009

    Umm, Ossipee lake has a long history of flooding. If you did not do your due diligence how is that the fault of the camprground owner. The lake level reaches 410 (nearly 3 ft over summer level) almost every spring. It has been as much as four feet higher than that (414). Flood zone maps are available for free on the web. There are tond of homes on this lake in flood zones and very rarely do any of them have a loss due to flooding, they plan ahead for it.

  5. john 12 years ago July 9, 2009

    Hopefully some one will buy the camp ground and keep the current HAPPY CAMPERS and run it with more communication and more activities…

  6. hardie har har 12 years ago July 9, 2009

    if any one ever believes anything that comes from the mouths of Smith and Hardie they ought to have their heads examined….any improvements were strictly to make more income….there have not been that many people evicted as this place has become known as THE NO RULES CAMPGROUND especially for F.O.C.”S…(friends of charlie)

  7. john 12 years ago July 9, 2009

    in the foreclosure notice it says the camp groung has an arcade and a gift shop Where???????????

  8. BODY MAN 12 years ago July 9, 2009

    I JUST HOPE THAT AFTER THE AUCTION TOMORROW SOME ONE LETS US
    ALL NOW WHATS GOING ON AT THE CAMP GROUND OR IF WE NEED TO REMOVE
    OUR CAMPER FROM OUR SITE.I HOPE NOT.I AM SHURE ALL WILL WORK OUT FINE
    AND WHO KNOWS WE MAYBE GET SOME ONE WHO CARES ABOUT US .AND THE CAMP GROUND.ALSO I HOPE THEY KEEP MARK!!!!!!!!

  9. Anonymous 12 years ago July 9, 2009

    There’s some talk of the previous owner buying the campground. Trust me, you don’t want that either. When the lake flooded back in the late 1990s, he took the insurance money, then sold the place without making any improvements after the flooding. The store was still closed down. When he did own and ran the property, he did run a tight ship. Lights out at 10pm, no walking around with open beer containers — but he always walked around with a scowl on his face. Definitely not your happy camper. We couldn’t take it. We moved.

  10. Mike 12 years ago July 9, 2009

    ohhh boy!!

  11. WWSwatchdog 12 years ago July 9, 2009

    Just received 2 emails from people that have received phone calls from some of our neighbors spending the week up at WWS. The exodus has begun, the backhoe and other camp property is being driven out of the campground as I type and down to the yellow building on Route 16. Now why would management be removing camp assets 24 hours before the auction, if Mr. Smith is cautiously optimistic that no sale is taking place tomorrow???

  12. Mike 12 years ago July 9, 2009

    THE AUCTION HAS BEEN POSTPONED!!!!!!

  13. BODY MAN 12 years ago July 9, 2009

    are you shure how do you know???

  14. Mike 12 years ago July 9, 2009
  15. Mike 12 years ago July 9, 2009

    now the auction sight says its back on????
    who knows

  16. Jack Blum 12 years ago July 9, 2009

    Charlie filed bankruptcy. The court will find it fraudulent and it will be thrown out. You just can’t do it for the hell of it. There has to be a valid reason.

  17. BODYMAN 12 years ago July 9, 2009

    THE AUCTION HAS ONLY BEEN POSTPONED UNTIL TWO WEEKS…IT IS BACK ON FOR FRIDAY JULY 24 AT 1100 AM…WHO CAN WES CALL TO VERIFY BANKRUPT????

  18. Long time camper 12 years ago July 9, 2009

    to Anonymous

    Please get your facts straight. the previous owner may have been strict but it worked.
    There were no kids out at 12 or 1 oclock in the morning. There were no golf carts out at 2 am.
    Quiet hours were 10:30 pm to 7:30 a.m. and it was quiet so that if you retired early you could actually sleep. This place has become a free for all. It is only a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured or worse. Until Mark arrived the campground was a mess. He has done a great job cleaning up all the rubbish charlie left. The previous owner did smile. well a lot more than charlie ever did. I would like to meet the person who could talk to charlie. If you went to charlie with any kind of issue, you would get yelled at or even sworn at with four letter words.
    All the rules the previous owner had were for everyone The way the campground is today if you are walking you could get hit by a golf cart loaded with kids or adults who have been drinking.
    there are many rules on the campground tv channell but none of them are ever enforced.
    The best thing that could happen to this place is a new owner.

  19. another long time camper 12 years ago July 9, 2009

    Yes John Picard did run a tight ship and forget about golf carts being out at 2 am there would be no golf carts at all which would be a good thing. Ive never seen so many lazy people before that cant walk to the next road to visit friends,everyone needs to drive their golf cart even if their going 2 sites away.I for one would like to see the Picards own it again.The campground needs rules to be enforced. The car ports look like crap and people park where ever they want.3 or 4 cars to a sight or parked in the road,boats and boat trailers on empty sites.Why have rules posted if youre not going to enforce them.

  20. BODY MAN 12 years ago July 10, 2009

    BODYMANE IS MY NAME GET YOUR OWN NAME PLEASE!!!!

  21. WWS Camper 12 years ago July 10, 2009

    Anyone who even begins to compare this place to when the Picards were here needs a serious reality check. We all know that this place was at its absolute best with Patty and Jim. They did more for WWS than anyone else combined. Charlie SUCKS, we all know that. But honestly, would you rather lose this place all together or just stick it out with him until things get settled. He isn’t around all that often and I really think he is afraid to show his face anyways. Charlie is one of the worst people I’ve ever met in my life – and I’ve been on the bad side of drunken tirades more than once. I agree that he needs to go. I think the best thing would be a new owner, but realistically, who wants the burden of a place like WWS in this economy. I wish there was an answer for all of this, but for me – I’m just going to enjoy it while it lasts. I’ve been coming here for over 20 years, through good and bad, and some dumb business man is not going to ruin it for me.

  22. k 12 years ago July 10, 2009

    does any one else think Charlies’ way of selling your trailer is illegal. Higher commissions than a licenced Real Estate Agent. Anyone had any bad exeperiences, I would like to know before I sell. Thinking of putting on consignment but what happens to add a room, have to pay to have that removed by them too.!!!!!! Caught between a rock and a hard place.

  23. d 12 years ago July 10, 2009

    K I would go to the NH Real Estate Commission to check it’s not legal

  24. BODYMAN 12 years ago July 10, 2009

    I WOULD ALSO CALL THE IRS AND THE STATE DEPT OF REVENUE TO SEE IF LEGAL AND IF ALL THIS IS BEIN REPORTED AS TAXES INCOME!

  25. Mike 12 years ago July 10, 2009

    The idea of calling the irs sounds great, but who will step up and call it in?

  26. BODYMAN 12 years ago July 10, 2009

    MIKE I THINK YOU MIGHT BE REALY SURPRISED AT SOME OF THE CALLS THAT ALREADY HAVE GONE IN!

  27. hardee-har-har 12 years ago July 10, 2009

    if you sell your trailer make sure the amount that goes to you is in your name and not anyone else…or dont sell……………..further i believe now that he has declared he cannot accept any monies for anything and it goes to the bankruptcy trustee..if he does accept money i believe he goes to jail….however i’m not a lawyer

  28. BODYMAN 12 years ago July 11, 2009

    “Speaking with the Alliance yesterday, Charlie Smith acknowledged that there has been a lack of information but said it would jeopardize his negotiations to say more.”
    GEE SO NOW WE FIND OUT THAT CHARLIES STRATEGY ALL ALONG WAS TO TAKE ALL OUR MONEY FOR THIS SEASON THEN HANG US ALL OUT TO DRY BY GOING BANKRUPT. NO WODER HE DIDNT WANT TO JEPORDIZE HIS NEGOTIATIONS!!!