Saying that they had met with Carolyn Sundquist “at this table” in a “series of meetings,” Dr. Ted Steinman and his wife, Carol, accompanied by their attorney, Jeremy Eggleton of the law firm Orr & Reno, described to the board of selectmen (left to right: Chip Albee, Bill Marcussen, Lloyd Wood) on Monday, April 24, how last year they had sought and “followed directly the town’s directions” when placing boulders along the edge of Brown Road on their property in order to block access to Lower Beech Pond from boat trailers and bob houses.
Carolyn Sundquist’s emails concerning Brown Road were obtained by Guy Pike through a Right to Know request last December. In one email to Road Agent Jim Bean dated August 25, 2016, Carolyn Sundquist wrote “I advised the Steinmans to go ahead with placing boulders in front of the access.”
Carol Steinmann read aloud a letter from Mark Evitts, who was the president of the Hidden Valley Property Owner’s Association last year. (The Steinmans are part of the association.) In the letter, Evitts states that he, David Smith, and the Steinmans, “approached Carolyn Sundquist during her office hours” and that the group had “acted in good faith and with the specific approval of the town.”
After his wife read the letter from Mark Evitts, Ted Steinman began to say “We sat here…” before he was interrupted by Selectman Bill Marcussen: “You did not sit with this board. You sat with a member of the board [Carolyn Sundquist].”
Dr. Steinman objected, “You can’t move the goal posts, after you establish…”
Selectman Chip Albee interjected, “The goal post is always set. Unfortunately, the mistake was made. One selectman [Carolyn Sundquist] can not decide for the board of selectmen.”
“But we didn’t know that,” said Carol Steinman.
Much discussion followed. The Steinmans repeatedly stated that they didn’t object to people putting in canoes and kayaks, but only to larger boats that necessitate trailers. Selectman Albee said, however, that the public has been using Lower Beech Pond for generations and “we’re not going to change the culture.” When Lloyd Wood, the chairman of the board, reiterated a point the Steinmans had made, that New Hampshire Fish & Games lists the pond as being “cartop” boats only, Chip responded that Fish & Game does not have the authority tell people what size of boat to use. He pointed out that what Fish & Game can do is construct a boat ramp.
In the end, the selectmen said the town would likely pay to have the boulders moved farther back onto the Steinman’s property, just out of the town’s right of way. The selectmen will post a meeting for Friday, April 28, during which they will visit Brown Road and assess the situation in person.
Selectman Wood opened the discussion to members of the public in attendance.
Guy Pike asked everyone to keep in mind that Tuftonboro Fire & Rescue may need to put in the airboat to rescue someone on Lower Beech Pond, and therefore keeping the public access open is a matter of public safety.
Ben Ladd stated that he’s been using Lower Beech Pond for over 50 years and that in his experience no one ever has put in the type of large speed boat the Steinmans were claiming. He also said that he had approached Carolyn Sundquist on September 23, 2016, with concerns about the placement of the boulders but had been met with deaf ears.
When I asked at the board of selectmen’s October 3rd meeting who had placed the boulders Carolyn Sundquist refused to provide any information. Lloyd Wood said he didn’t know, and Bill Marcussen said he thought that the land owner (the Steinmans) had placed the boulders. At the same meeting Sue Weeks pointed out that the boulders were in the town right of way. Bill Marcussen said that it appeared the boulders needed to be moved. I then asked if the land owner would have to move the rocks, and Bill said, “I would think so.”
But that was then and this is now. It appears that the taxpayer will have to pay to move the rocks that were placed in the right of way with the permission of two elected officials — Carolyn Sundquist and Jim Bean –and a town employee — Jack Parsons. The Steinmans and other members of Hidden Valley Property Owners Association spent $3,500 to install the rocks. Now the taxpayers shoulder the financial burden of moving them. All because Carolyn Sundquist made decisions under the guise of authority that she did not possess as a single selectman.
Carolyn Sundquist’s mistake has been compounded by her tendency to stonewall. Mistakes do happen. The best way to deal with that is to acknowledge what happened and move on. The new board of selectmen seems to be moving in that direction.
Timestamps for Steinman meeting video (Watch on YouTube for active links in timestamps):
3:34 Steinmans met with Carolyn Sundquist and Jack Parson “at this table.”
Were told “it’s your property”
5:00 placed the rocks according to stipulations.
5:39 Dec. 22 someone in backhoe moved rocks to open up access to pond (for ice fishing)
8:29 Chip asks what Steinmans think is reasonable outcome. Their answer is rocks stay in place.
9:49 showing pictures to selectmen
12:05 “We followed directly the town’s directions.”
13:39 “Our goal was not to prevent access to the lake…” Hoped people would park across the street.
14:49 letter from Mark Ebbits (Read by Carol Steinman)
17:29 — “We approached Carolyn Sundquist during her office hours”
18:19 — “We acted in good faith and in specific approval of the town”
21:24 — “explicit approval”
21:59 end of letter
22:09 Ted Steinman goes back to Chip’s question about ideal outcome
23:52 Steinman attorney: we object to any order requiring Steinmans to move rocks.
25:34 Attorney position is right of way does not allow access to the water for the public
26:24 Attorney: no question the boulders are in the right of way.
27:04 Chip one board member can not make decisions for the board
Carol Steinmann “We didn’t know that!”
27:49 Attorney: as a matter of law, it’s the Steinman’s property. They didn’t need your permission.
29:04 Attorney: the town is estopped.
29:24 Chip: sure, you had the right to put the rocks there and we have the right to remove them because we have the right of way.
30:39 “All we did was follow the directions of the town.”
36:34 Lloyd shows his sketch of boundary
37:04 Ted Steinman “Our property starts in the middle of the culvert.”
Chip: technically your property goes to the middle of the road, and since you own the land across the road, it’s all your property.”
39:19 Bill: Is Hidden Valley prepared to offer alternate public access? Steinmans: we can’t speak for them.
43:49 Chip: I know 3 different individuals who’ve put ice houses on the lake for 25 years, but now it’s an issue?
44:49 Chip I fished that lake in 1958.
45:29 Chip: We can’t end ice fishing… it’s a public body of water. It’s a Great Pond.
48:04 Carol Steinman: we’d like you to come up with a solution to stop large boats.
48:19 Lloyd: Fish and Game says it’s small boats only
48:24 Chip: Fish and Game doesn’t have authority to tell you what size your boat is. But they can install a boat launch.
Lloyd: they can access federal funds to install a boat launch
Carol Steinman: the property owner has no right?
Steinmann attorney: not if there’s a right of way. And our position is there isn’t.
Chip: well, there is.
51:49 Bill: before all this was there any indication to general public that you didn’t want them putting in large boats?
1:29:50 Bill: Maybe there was a less severe thing to do than install boulders.
55:11 Ted Steinman: “series of meetings with Carolyn Sundquist.”
55:39 Bill: Regardless of whether you spoke to Road Agent you put the rocks in the wrong place
56:49 Bill: The rocks have to be moved. Period.
57:34 Bill: there’s the right of way of the road, and the right to access to the lake. They’re separate issues.
1:03:09 Chip: assume town pays for moving rocks
Carol Steinman: if you move the rocks along the road back farther onto our property that’s ok. It’s the access point that we’re concerned about
1:06:49 Lloyd: “I’m a truant officer…”
1:08:29 Chip: I think we can come to an agreement that the town will move the rocks to 25’ from center of road
1:09:34 public comment: Guy Pike “ FD chief is not here but what about access for the FD airboat in the case of an emergency.
1:10:34 Ben Ladd: I met with Carolyn Sundquist on September 23 (my birthday). I had concerns about the placement of the boulders. It just kind of died after that. … I have used the public access for over 50 years. I’ve never seen boats much more than 16’. … My issue is although it was said it was ok to put the boulders there they are in the right of way. …That’s the only access to the pond. As a town we have to address it.
1:16:49 Selectmen will visit site
1:17:04 End of Steinman discussion