New Owner of Westward Shores Plans Major Expansion

Ossipee—February 25, 2016—One of the area’s largest business expansions in years will take place on Ossipee Lake if state and local officials approve applications filed by Northgate Ossipee LLC, which purchased Westward Shores Campground on December 21.

The Westward Shores property has been in operation since the 1940s and comprises more than 300 acres. It has waterfront on the northern bank of the Bearcamp River and incorporates a large stretch of the western shoreline of the big lake. In addition to the 144-slip marina and 258-site campground, the purchase included nine undeveloped abutting lots and a three-bedroom home and land on what is known as The Peninsula.

The expansion, which will likely double current potential capacity, is being planned in three delineated areas, all of which will see new campsites with gravel pads for RV and car parking. The Pond Road area development will consist of 246 campsites, two bathhouses, an indoor pool, and a pavilion. Plans for The Peninsula include razing the existing house and garage and adding 18 campsites. The Bearcamp River site will see 66 new campsites, a bathhouse, and a pavilion. [View the plan here].

State and Local Approvals
The entire property has wetlands and is within a flood hazard area, which means Northgate’s plans are contingent on receiving a favorable response from state and local environmental and planning officials.

In a phone call with Ossipee Lake Alliance, Greta Bossenbroek, the company’s regional operations manager, said most of the required applications and plans have been filed, and some have already been modified to meet legal and environmental requirements. Bossenbroek said the business might also seek state and local approvals to increase the number of boat slips at the marina and expand food and grocery operations at the store. Such applications have not yet been filed, however.

A Michigan Company
Northgate Ossipee is part of Northgate Resorts LLC, a Michigan-based company that operates six family-oriented campgrounds. Its website mission statement says the company has a commitment to camper satisfaction, noting that doing so will create “value for the Company and make a difference in our guests’ lives.”

Northgate’s properties range from Texas to Virginia to New York and operate under the franchised “Yogi Bear Jellystone Park” brand. Westward Shores, however, will not use that brand, according to Bossenbroek. She said Northgate is prepared to “invest millions” to ensure that Westward Shores is “well maintained and meets the high standards” of the company’s other properties.

She said the planned improvements and expansion will help drive business growth in the area, adding that she hopes to work with local businesses and vendors toward that goal. Meeting with local environmental and conservation groups to answer their questions is also on her to-do list, she told the Alliance.

Financial Troubles
Westward Shores has a colorful recent past. The previous owner, Charlie Smith, made news in June 2009 after campground residents reported he was selling lots as quasi-condo units without required state and local approvals. His sales scheme, launched in April that year, offered long-time campers “introductory price levels” from $59,500 for a wooded lot to $178,500 for a waterfront lot. Prospective buyers were encouraged to “lock in discounted prices” by signing a purchase intent agreement by June 1 and making a $500 deposit.

After officials stepped in, Smith quickly applied for the required state and local approvals and returned the checks of some 30 prospective buyers. But not before campers launched a torrent of blistering public comments on social media, claiming the campground owner was, among other things, tolerating rowdy behavior on the premises and allowing raw sewage to seep from overflowing septic systems.

Claiming access to inside information, a prolific social media poster called “Westy” said the campground was financially underwater and the lot sales had been hastily arranged to prevent creditors from taking over. Smith denied the allegation, but a week later the property was listed in a foreclosure auction advertisement in the Boston Globe. Months of legal wrangling ensued, with the campground repeatedly scheduled for foreclosure and rescued at the last minute before Smith’s creditors finally seized the property.

Charlie Smith died in Ossipee in 2012.

New Owner of Westward Shores Plans Major Expansion

20 thoughts on “New Owner of Westward Shores Plans Major Expansion

  • February 26, 2016 at 10:20 am
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    Not a good thing for Ossipee Lake

  • February 26, 2016 at 1:46 pm
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    I have to agree with Chris, to attempt to cram that many sites on wetlands that border the river and the lake is a recipe for disaster. One only has to be aware of the past and continuing issues with campers there to fear a doubling or tripling of that clientele!

  • February 26, 2016 at 4:14 pm
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    Please explain why? I am not sure if I am for or against it yet but on first blush I don’t see a problem.

    Bill

  • February 26, 2016 at 4:26 pm
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    Already too crowded here. Plus it looks from the article that the company has had problems maintaining what facilities they already have. Where do they expect to pull good quality help from in the pool of “workers”, in Freedom and Ossipee? There are non !

  • February 26, 2016 at 5:06 pm
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    Thanks for the article, Ossipee Lake Alliance! We’re excited about this opportunity. Just wanted to clarify, the layout originally published on this article is no longer the correct proposal (not shown anymore). The latest proposal, (which is shown now) eliminates the 66 sites along Bearcamp River. This sentence, ‘the Bearcamp River site will see 66 new campsites, a bathhouse, and a pavilion,’ is no longer a part of our expansion proposal. Northgate understands how pristine this area is and hopes that the community and the resort may all continue to enjoy the area and wildlife.

  • February 26, 2016 at 5:55 pm
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    The beaches are small and get crowded already. Will there be more beach area to handle doubling the population? I would like the camp to remain open year round instead of closing in the spring and summer, plus a reduction in visitor fees. It costs friends with children nearly the price of a hotel to just hang out at our site with us!

  • February 27, 2016 at 4:22 pm
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    Doubt you’ll ever see that place open year round. However, hang on to your piggy bank because word on the street is that a substantial rate increase is coming for the 2017 season. Lots of the “lower tier” folk out on M, N and O are probably looking at their last season of “Charlie’s Paradise”….even the campground Rat down near the dump will be losing his crown when new management fully vests itself this upcoming season!

  • February 28, 2016 at 2:55 pm
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    My family has been on the for many generations on the Freedom side. Westward Shores is on the Ossipee side of the lake. Zoning and other regulations are different; Ossipee’s not being as stringent. The camps between Westward Shores and the Branch river, as well as much of Westward Shores routinely flood every so often. Not quite on a yearly basis, but much more often in the last 30 years, than the previous 30 years. We have often kayaked or canoed all around the houses near the Branch and around picnic tables and over campsites at Westward Shores during floods. All the septic systems being completely under water. As a result the hard white sandy bottom of the lake of my childhood has deteriorated to have a lot of vegetation, clams, and silt. It is very discouraging seeing the decline.

    I certainly hope that the environment is taken into consideration, and that any expansion is very cognizant of sewage and water flooding issues.

  • February 29, 2016 at 4:39 pm
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    Chris where in the article and what article does it state that Northgate has had problems maintaining their facilities?

  • February 29, 2016 at 4:40 pm
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    Lee when exactly was the last time you kayaked or canoed around Westward Shores campground and the picnic tables? From what I understand there hasn’t been a major flood of your description in close to 30 years.

  • February 29, 2016 at 5:48 pm
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    Same company. Plus these Yogi Bear campground’s have a wide mix of reviews pertaining to cleanliness. Here is the clip from the article of the previous owner who died recently:
    “After officials stepped in, Smith quickly applied for the required state and local approvals and returned the checks of some 30 prospective buyers. But not before campers launched a torrent of blistering public comments on social media, claiming the campground owner was, among other things, tolerating rowdy behavior on the premises and allowing raw sewage to seep from overflowing septic systems.”

    I for one am not looking forward to anymore growth around the lake. I am a native and I see enough MASS plates barreling down my road as it is. June, July and August is nothing but a torrent of bullish , partying, messy flat landers that use this area as their escape from reality. Let’s just leave it there!

  • February 29, 2016 at 8:20 pm
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    You definitely aren’t familiar with the campground Bruce, as it floods on a fairly regular basis.

  • February 29, 2016 at 8:21 pm
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    Northgate has nothing nothing to do with the Smith in the article in fact the Smith in the article is a previous owner twice removed since the Northgate purchase. As for the cleanliness comments I checked the reviews on 4 of the 6 parks owned by Northgate and the average review was over 4 out of 5 stars in all aspects. As with anything else there will be people who cannot be made happy. Just for the record not all “flatlanders” act like the ones on your road and I am sorry to hear of your bad experiences.

  • February 29, 2016 at 8:41 pm
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    Bruce, a quick visit to the M, N and O section of Westward Shores on any given weekend night will give you ample example of what Chris is opining about.

  • February 29, 2016 at 8:46 pm
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    Sounds like your all for more development on the lake. You have something to gain ? If you’re a resident on the lake you shouldn’t want to see more campgrounds or development. Later.

  • March 10, 2016 at 9:39 am
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    As a 54 year lakeside resident in Freedom, I for one and lets hope hundreds of others, can clearly see what is happening on our beautiful lake these days. If it comes to be that Westward Shores gets even 200 more sites that is potentially 200 more speed boats. Not only will it be a hazard to motorless boats but it will be an environmental tragedy to our shoreline. If you have been on the lake more than 20 years you don’t need to be a scientist to see the damage these speedboats can do. Can someone please tell me how we can now protest against this ? Too late? Under the cover of winter skies these things are approved…Lee, I too have canoed through Westward Shores in recent memory. Lets research the last time we have seen the floods soak up WS. All of us need to get on the same page, this plan is a nightmare. Where are the protesters from the “Sand Bar”? Where are the wonderful folks that dredge up milfoil for us? Does Ossipee have enough fire and police employees to handle all these people? 200 families with 2-4 kids? The more I think about this plan the more angry I get.

  • March 11, 2016 at 2:20 pm
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    1998 was the year of the big flood, WS was under water, and the water was up to the windows on some house on Long Sands. We saw lots of debris floating in the water including an oil tank!

  • July 12, 2016 at 4:46 pm
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    Of course someone who would say something so demeaning of the people of Freedom and Ossipee would not put their last name to their post.

  • July 12, 2016 at 4:56 pm
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    Chris Mulcahy is the name, look it up and stop by. Business owner, employer and resident of Freedom NH. I live on the lake and I still do not believe we need anymore expansion here. Take it somewhere else.

  • August 11, 2016 at 1:15 pm
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    I hope state and local municipality doesn’t let this corporation go forward with plans . It will turn into a tourist trap and cause a great expense to the people who are there now . It’s been a great place , this corporation should be at lake winnepsoke not Ossipee. I hope there not greedy with the campers that are there now with raising rates which will drive people out
    I guess time will tell.

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