Ossipee — July 23, 2009 — Westward Shores Campground and Marina has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to principal owner Charlie Smith. As a result of the filing, tomorrow’s planned auction of the financially troubled business has been canceled.
Smith said he hopes the filing will give him time to reorganize and resolve the tangle of legal issues that developed after his primary lender foreclosed on the property in June. He blamed the foreclosure on a series of bank mergers and mortgage exchanges that were out of his control and resulted in a demand for accelerated payments that he couldn’t meet.
In a phone interview yesterday, Smith said the cancellation of the auction should reassure campers who have paid for the season that there is no danger of being evicted by a new owner.
Relations between campers and the owner and his manager, John Hardie, have been strained since May when returning campers were given a memo announcing that the property would be “condominiumized.” Campers were told they could make a $500 down payment to reserve their site for later purchase.
While campers were absorbing the news, a foreclosure auction notice in the Boston Globe was spotted by a camper and posted online, opening a floodgate of public criticism of the campground’s management.
Smith said yesterday that he still wants to proceed with the sale of individual campsites once the business emerges from bankruptcy. Ossipee officials have approved the plan, leaving state regulations to be addressed.
While Smith focuses on the future of the business, life at the popular family-oriented campground goes on as usual. Scheduled for this weekend is a “Christmas in July” contest for the best decorated campsite and a pot luck dinner on the beach, according to the Westward Shores website.