NH’s Parks Division Rebuff’s Casella’s Offer

To the Editor:

It did not look like Forest Lake State Park (FLSP) was going to open for the summer season due to state budget cuts that have hobbled NH’s Parks Division. But FLSP did open for July 4th weekend thanks to an incredible volunteer effort led by the Dalton Board of Selectmen and the Dalton Fire Department.

Soon after the opening, Casella sent a letter to NH’s Parks Division saying it wanted to help—specifically to help manage and improve FLSP. A response to Casella finally came on August 18th—Casella’s offer of help was rebuffed in a letter from Phil Bryce, the Parks Director, to a top Casella manager. This response didn’t take the usual tack of politely saying no thank you; it said NO WAY!

The Parks Division letter gives two reasons: 1) because Casella had already engaged in a strategy of trying to inappropriately box out the Parks Division from participating as an abutter in decision-making over Casella’s proposal to build a huge new landfill in Dalton, right next to FLSP; and 2) because FLSP is a state asset as well as a community asset, and it should be and will be the Parks Division that will make capital improvements.

Casella’s offer to help was seen by many as a Johnny-come-lately move, a cheap and transparent ploy to buy good will in Dalton and surrounding communities. Given the spirit of Mr. Bryce’s letter, it seems like NH’s Parks Division may feel that way too.

The good news out of all this is that despite state budgets cuts that might have kept FLSP closed for the season, FSLP is open for business, thanks to the efforts of many dedicated volunteers. In fact, attendance at the beach this year has been very good.

And the other bit of good news is that if and when Casella files permit applications at NH’s Department of Environmental Services (DES), Casella presumably now recognizes that it can’t buy the support of NH’s Parks Division. The vast majority of residents in Dalton and neighboring towns are determined to protect FLSP from the odor, scavenger animals, polluted water, and all the other environmental insults that would likely come to FLSP and the surrounding area if DES allows Casella to go ahead with its plans to build a huge new landfill right next to FLSP.

Vermont corporations please take note—NH’s North Country is not for sale.

Eliot Wessler

Whitefield, N. H.

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