First step taken to transfer Area Road to Gilford

GILFORD — Area Road, which was built as part of a private subdivision around 1970 and which has served as an exit way from Gunstock Mountain Resort in recent years, is on its way to becoming a town-maintained roadway.
Gunstock General Manager Gregg Goddard met with Belknap County Commissioners Wednesday morning to seek approval for granting a right of way on county-owned land to the town of Gilford, which will enable the town to maintain the road.
The road extends from Rte. 11-A to the Gunstock Mountain Resort property and is gated at the Gunstock end.
Described by Goddard as being in a ''no man's land'', the road was one of two in a chalet style subdivision built by Phil Roux on land near the former Mount Rowe Ski Area. He said that one of the roads, Chalet Drive, located about 1,000 feet to the west on Rte. 11-A, was later accepted as a town road but Area Road, where 11 homes are located, has remained a private road.
Gunstock assumed control over part of property along Area Road when it acquired the 105-acre Alpine Ridge (formerly Mount Rowe) property from Penny Pitou and Milo Pike in 1998.
''We use it when we're really busy, like Soulfest during the summer and on our busy winter weekends,'' Goddard said of the former ski area property on Area Road.
He told commissioners that Gunstock has been looking at what to do about the road since 2008 and that it surveyed homeowners along the road about the situation and was able to talk with all but two of them and that all those surveyed supported the town taking over the road.
Goddard said that granting a right of way on county property requires approval from not only the Gunstock Area Commission, a five-member board which oversees Gunstock's operations, but also from the Belknap County Commission and the Belknap County Convention.
''The town needs land outside the 50-foot right-of-way in order to maintain the road,'' said Goddard, who said the right of way easement covers 5,364-square feet- about an eighth of an acre.
He said that Gunstock will need to make some improvements to the property in order to meet Gilford's conditions for accepting it as a town road, including pavement patching, ditch repair and utility pole removal.
The improvements, which will be made at Gunstock's expense, will cost between $8,000 and $10,000, and will most likely be accomplished in the spring said Goddard.
''We'll have to install and temporary barrier and will move the fence back. We'll also create an area for snow storage and will probably lose about five or six parking spaces,'' said Goddard.
Commissioners, at the suggestion of Gilford Town Administrator Scott Dunn, who was present at the meeting, approved a motion signing off on the layout plan which the town has approved.
Gilford selectmen will hold a public hearing Wednesday, December 4 at 7 p.m. on accepting Area Road as a town road.