Ribbon-cutting ceremony commemorates upgrades at Miller State Park in Peterborough

  • A large gathering shows its support for a revitalization project atop Pack Monadnock in Peterborough Friday morning. The celebration was attended by New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, front right, and state Commissioner for the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources Sarah L. Stewart, to his left. —STAFF PHOTO BY SCOTT MERRILL

  • Gov. Chris Sununu atop Pack Monadnock Sept. 23 for the unveiling of a state historic marker and a celebration of revitalization work on the mountain. —STAFF PHOTO BY SCOTT MERRILL

  • Gov. Chris Sununu speaks atop Pack Monadnock Sept. 23. —STAFF PHOTO BY SCOTT MERRILL

  • David Baum addresses the crowd celebrating revitalization efforts atop Pack Monadnock Sept. 23. —STAFF PHOTO BY SCOTT MERRILL

  • State Department of Natural & Cultural Resources Commissioner Sarah L. Stewart cuts the ribbon atop Pack Monadnock Sept. 23. David Baum, left, and Gov. Chris Sununu, right, are on either side of Stewa. —STAFF PHOTO BY SCOTT MERRILL

  • Michael Licata, director of government affairs at Eversource Energy, left, and Gov. Chris Sununu atop Pack Monadnock Sept. 23 for a celebration of revitalization efforts on the mountain. —STAFF PHOTO BY SCOTT MERRILL

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/23/2022 8:45:17 PM

A collective of friends who enjoy hiking Pack Monadnock throughout the year was able to celebrate their vision for preserving the mountain’s aesthetic integrity on the mountain’s summit Sept. 23 at a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating recent revitalization upgrades.

A little over five years ago, the Pack Monadnock Road Alliance was formed by a group of residents from Peterborough and surrounding towns to address an Eversource project that would have installed poles with power lines up the mountain’s auto road, which also serves as a hiking trail for many people. 

“A little over five years ago one of my walking friends, Greg Connelly, noticed there were survey markers in the road,” David Baum, who was instrumental in forming the alliance, said, adding that Connelly asked the state what was happening and was told there was a problem with broken conduit containing wires leading to the cellphone towers at the top of the mountain. “The state said they needed a safer system and that Eversource was going to begin digging within the week to put poles and lines up the entire road.”

What Eversource didn’t know, Baum said, “and what I don’t think the state knew,” was that the auto road serves not only a road but a walkway for hikers.

“It would have ruined the experience for walkers and for drivers. At sunrise, it’s the most-beautiful experience in the world, and putting the poles up would have changed everything,” he said.

The group had a three-pronged strategy, Baum said, adding that along with Connelly, John Kieley, Francie Von Mertens, state Rep. Peter Leishman and others, they went to the state for a meeting with Eversource and that over time they were able to change the route of the lines. 

“[Eversource] had just taken a beating with the Northern Pass,” Baum said, adding the group never took a confrontational approach. “But it was always our intention to treat them as potential partners and to honor them but to be firm. The most-confrontational thing that happened was that Peter Leishman had once said if they were going to start building he was going to chain himself to the gate.” 

What followed over the next five years was re a series of fruitful meetings with the state as well as Eversource, Baum said, adding that the alliance had one “huge advantage.”

“We saw [the mountain] every day,” Baum said, adding that Pack Monadnock was the place he proposed to his wife and that he has married multiple people on the mountain. “Eversource and the state could go to sleep every night and forget about it, but we held the vision of the possible. It was about persistence. A community of people who passionately love this mountain.”

Weather atop the mountain Sept. 23 was in the mid-40s and a steady wind blew as people gathered at the summit of Pack Monadnock in Miller State Park – New Hampshire’s oldest state park – for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate revitalization upgrades at the park. 

Gov. Chris Sununu was in attendance, as were representatives of the state Department of Natural & Cultural Resources, other state and local dignitaries, local community members and other project partners for the morning event near state highway marker No. 275 – the only highway marker atop a mountain in the state.

“This has been a great collaborative effort, and a culmination of government projects,” said state Division of Historical Resources Community Preservation Coordinator Amy Dixon, who unveiled the marker, which is part of the state’s Historical Highway Markers program.  

Upgrades at the park that were celebrated included improving views, parking, painting buildings, removing old conduit and the reimagining of both the poles and wires up to the summit, including burying wires that cross the access road and making sure wires were placed in the woods out of view. 

Michael Licata, director of government affairs at Eversource Energy, addressed the crowd of more than 60 people by thanking the many people from the state and the community who came together to make the project a success.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this project,” Licata said. “This is what makes New Hampshire a great and unique state. So many people from the company and the community worked hard on this, and so many people will enjoy this without giving it a second thought.”

Kieley, of Temple, began skiing Pack Monadnock 60 years ago and became part of the Pack Monadnock Road Alliance when he learned power lines were going to be built. Kieley and his wife Connie bought the former Temple Mountain Ski Area in 2003, and in December 2007 the state, with some federal funds, purchased 352 acres from the Kieleys for $1 million after a multiyear effort to dismantle the ski area and preserve the land by creating the Temple Mountain State Reservation.

Kieley explained that the alliance to protect the scenery on Pack Monadnock consulted with people who had designed the power line routes up Mount Washington in order to provide Eversource and the state more options. The power line now runs in the woods to the right of the auto road as one descends the mountain.

“This [project] was a cakewalk compared to Mount Washington, and it was what allowed us to bring the lines up through the woods,” he said. “What we didn’t want to do was protect the auto road and put the power line in a place that would affect the Wapack Trail. That was the real problem.”

Kieley said there is still work to do at the park, including burying 200 feet of power lines that interrupt a scenic vista of Mount Monadnock, and that he was pleased to hear Sununu say $50 million is available for state parks projects during his address Friday morning. 

Bruce Myrick, treasurer of Friends of the Wapack, another group involved in protecting the mountain and preserving the Wapack Trail that runs west of the auto road, said his organization worked with Eversource to minimize the visual impact of the power lines. 

Rick Blanchette, also of Friends of the Wapack, said, “We started in deep in terms of relationships,” but called the project a “good culmination of work,” referring to the landscaping and other summit work that was done.

Friends of the Wapack will hold an annual meeting on Oct. 15 in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to commemorate the 5oth anniversary of the Wapack National Wildlife Refuge, which encompasses North Pack Monadnock. 

Baum addressed the crowd atop the mountain and said it has been five very long years “to create the best possible outcome,” and that the work done to preserve the mountain’s aesthetic integrity while maintaining safety demonstrates a “great model partnership between the state, private individuals and the community.” 

“We wanted to make sure this beautiful space was protected long after I’m gone,” he said, adding in an interview after the event, “For those of us who live in this community this is sacred ground. We didn’t let go for our friends and others in the towns around here.” 


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