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Mount Washington Observatory Lease Extended Until 2014

WARREN, NH – A vote today by Governor and Council approved a new, mutually-beneficial lease agreement between the nonprofit Mount Washington Observatory and the Department of Resources and Economic Development’s Division of Parks and Recreation.
 
“The Observatory is an important part of the summit of Mount Washington experience,” says George Bald, Commissioner of DRED. “In the true tradition of New Hampshire, we worked as partners to come to an agreement that benefits both organizations.”

The lease extends the nonprofit Mount Washington Observatory’s presence at the summit through 2014, and includes three five-year renewal periods. The leased space includes the iconic observation tower, offices, living quarters, and the Mount Washington Museum. 

The Observatory's new lease sets the base rent at $1 per year, plus $285,000 in additional rent over the first five-year lease term. In addition, income derived from admissions to the Observatory’s Mount Washington Museum above and beyond $120,000 will be split between the Observatory and DRED. Of that sum, DRED’s component will be restricted to improvements at the summit of Mount Washington and the Observatory’s component will be restricted to museum improvements. Expenditures from these restricted funds must be approved by the Mount Washington Commission. The State will also receive five percent commissions on a number of the Observatory’s other income sources, such as retail sales, contract services, educational programs and overnight visits. The Observatory is responsible for paying the State for its heat and electricity throughout the year as well.

As a result of this new agreement, the Observatory’s total payments to the State over the first five-year lease term will be nearly two and a half times greater than payments made under the previous lease.
 
A key factor in the new agreement between DRED and the Observatory is a separate new partnership that has been established between the Observatory and Mount Washington’s two primary tourist attractions, the Cog Railway and the Mt. Washington Auto Road. In this partnership, the attractions contribute a portion of ticket sales to the Observatory in exchange for offering free museum admission to their patrons. This new income stream provides funding for the majority of the Observatory’s summit occupancy costs.

“Operating a State facility in an extremely harsh environment is an expensive endeavor and we recognize the State Park’s need for additional income. A healthy Mt. Washington State Park is vital to our existence and to the visitors that visit the park every year,” says Scot Henley, Mount Washington Observatory Executive Director. “The Observatory is committed to improving the overall visitor experience at the summit and we are grateful to the attractions for their generous support of this important New Hampshire institution and the spectacular State Park in which we operate. Overall, we are pleased that the process has led to a positive conclusion and we look forward to a close working relationship with DRED for many years to come.”

“The hallmark of this new lease is innovation,” says Drew Landry, President of the Observatory’s Board of Trustees. “Both DRED and the Observatory found a way to meet their individual needs while collectively serving the needs of all summit visitors by funding upgrades to the park and the museum.”

Located in Mount Washington State Park’s Sherman Adams Building, Mount Washington Observatory is a private, non-profit, member-supported organization with a mission to advance understanding of the natural systems that create the Earth's weather and climate. Since 1932, the Observatory has been monitoring the elements in one of the most extreme locations on Earth, using this unique site for scientific research and educational outreach. For current weather conditions, webcams, photos and general information about the Observatory, visit www.MountWashington.org or call (603) 356-2137. 

Mt. Washington State Park is managed by the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation.  The Division is comprised of the Parks Bureau, Bureau of Historic Sites, Bureau of Trails and Cannon Mountain.  The division manages 71 properties, including; state parks, campgrounds, historic sites, trails, waysides and natural areas.  The Division is one of four divisions of the Department of Resources and Economic Development.  To learn more about the Division of Parks and Recreation, visit www.nhstateparks.org or call (603) 271-3556.

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