Ossipee—June 13, 2012—Imagine Freedom and Ossipee without the economic and recreational engine of Ossipee Lake and the surrounding rivers and ponds and you can understand why shorefront and non-shorefront property owners have so much in common. Yet there are few opportunities for residents and non-resident taxpayers to share ideas and voice their concerns about issues that affect the lake and, ultimately, their pocketbooks.
That’s why Ossipee Lake Alliance decided this year to open the doors of its annual Lake Representatives Forum to all area residents. Local elected officials, from town selectmen to State office holders, have also been invited. The Forum is this Saturday from 9 a.m. to Noon at Ossipee Town Hall.
Established five years ago, the Forum began as a platform for members of the lake’s property owner associations and businesses to set the Alliance’s goals for the coming year. At the first Forum, the “Lake Reps” developed the agenda that resulted in the State plan to protect Ossipee Lake Natural Area while accommodating recreation at the site. A subsequent Forum discussion led to a widely attended public meeting and the intervention by local elected officials to resolve an impasse with the State over the “410 Issue” of shorefront property ownership.
Last year, interest in the Forum increased substantially after the meeting made front-page news with an Alliance-funded research report showing the State was paying just 12 percent of the cost of controlling milfoil in infested lakes, leaving taxpayers to foot the rest of the bill.
“The Union Leader story was the catalyst for change,” according to Alliance Executive Director David Smith. “Here was a significant lake issue that affected the pocketbooks of shorefront property owners and non-shorefront property owners alike. We had people calling to ask why the Forum wasn’t open to everyone, and the obviously answer was that it should be.”
This year the Forum will feature an update of last year’s news-making report on State milfoil control funding as well as discussions on the importance of multi-town watershed planning and controlling storm water runoff to keep phosphorous out of the lake.
“We have a diverse group of speakers on topics that are affecting area residents now and will likely affect them in the future,” said Alliance Co-Director Susan Marks. “While it’s not on the agenda, I also wouldn’t be surprised if there are questions about the tax protests that have sprung up this year in Ossipee,” she added.
The Forum’s doors open at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and breakfast snacks at Ossipee Town Hall this Saturday, June 16.
Tax protests did not just spring up this year. There have been ongoing abatement requests for several years. This is the first time, however, that so many people have band together to attempt a class action against the town of Ossipee and appeal the ritual abatement denials that routinely emanate from the town.
Although the milfoil issue is significant I wouldn’ be suprised if the tax issues took center stage.