Mount Washington Commission Obtains Master Planning Report | Local news


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PURCHASE OF SARGENT – Members of the Mount Washington Commission recently received the 34-page Fall 2021 “Master Planning Report” prepared by three third-year Harvard Law School students participating in the Clinical Negotiation Program and of Harvard Mediation under the supervision of Professor Rachel Viscomi.

Harvard Law School students – Seorae Ko, Erin Savoie, Lowry Yankwich – visited Mount Washington State Park in October.

“We conducted interviews, workshops and first-hand observations to identify obstacles preventing the commission from (working on) the master plan,” the report’s summary reads. “We have reached a number of conclusions, reflecting a series of common issues facing the Commission – and other similar bodies -.

“First of all, we found that the main planning process will require a different format from the regular meeting format of the committee, which (only addresses) operational and short-term issues,” the report details. “General planning meetings will have to look to the future. (Their success) will depend on a commitment to collaboration and joint problem solving, which will require trust and strong relationships.

“Second, we have found that the commission is stuck in a ‘zero sum’ mindset that hinders opportunities for collaboration,” the report said. “It is understood that partners look out for their own interests, rather than looking for ways in which their interests could complement those of (their counterparts). If they can move beyond a zero-sum mindset, Commissioners have the opportunity to strike mutually beneficial deals.

“Third, our interviews suggested that master planning offers the commission an opportunity to resolve the sources of friction that (have kept it) from achieving its full potential,” the law students write. “Partners are generally willing – and even eager – to engage in substantive discussions about the future of the 6,288-foot summit, and master planning offers precisely this opportunity (they are looking for).”

Students summarized their findings into three main strategies:

1. “Make the master plan stand out from regular meetings. We further recommend planning as a full body to ensure that the outcome… is accepted as legitimate and reflects the agreement of all parties.

1. “Restructure interactions to promote value creation. (In our report) we offer tools to help the Commission move from a zero sum mindset to a mindset (i.e.) conducive to finding mutually beneficial solutions.

1. “Hire a facilitator. We recommend that you use the expertise of a facilitator who can act as a neutral and expert guide in this complex process. Many groups facing complex multi-stakeholder decisions look to (paid) facilitators to ensure the process is carried out in a fair and constructive manner.

The report notes that the required master plan should include a discussion of: the capital improvements to be achieved over 10 years; the operation proposed by the summit, including fees, staff and franchise agreements; promotion of the summit as a “recreational, historical and scientific” attraction; protection of the summit’s unique flora and natural resources; negotiation of public rights of way; and cooperation agreements between private interests and the commission, such as the collection of fees, common staff or any other similar subject.

In short, the report stresses, the master plan must set a vision for the summit of Mount Washington over a 10-year period and recognize its importance as a mixed-use area and unique natural environment.

The next 12-member commission meeting will be at 9 a.m. on Friday, January 7, 2022, at the Pope Memorial Library (formerly the North Conway Public Library).

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