Texan wants to 'pay it forward' with a girls' camp on a Winnipesaukee island

Sunday News Correspondent
November 11. 2017 11:49PM

Big Island at Dusk 

LACONIA - Plans to build a nonprofit summer camp for underprivileged girls on a Paugus Bay island on Lake Winnipesaukee are meeting resistance from some mainland residents.

In response, philanthropist Scott Everett flew from Texas this month to meet with abutters.

"I really wanted to address people's concerns," said Everett, who owns a home in the Paugus Park Road neighborhood, one of the shoreline areas closest to Big Island.

During an Oct. 16 Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting, residents who spoke in opposition to the plan for the camp cited concerns about noise, the impact on an established loon nesting area and safety issues.

Everett views the project as a way "to pay forward, pay it back."

He said his maternal grandparents owned the Greystone Motel, where he held his first summer job at age 13 cleaning guest rooms. He graduated from Gilford High School.

Everett, who founded Supreme Lending in 1999, is credited with growing the Dallas-based company into a nationwide mortgage origination operation with licenses in all 50 states.

He said his wish to give girls ages 8 to 12 the chance to experience lakeside living in summertime is motivated by his desire to set an example for his own 10-year-old daughter.

Special exception

Representatives of NH Big Island Company, the name of Everett's charitable organization, are scheduled to appear before Laconia's zoning board on Nov. 20. They are seeking a special exception to develop what is characterized in the application as a conference center - a use permitted under certain circumstances.

The ZBA must grant a special exception for the project to advance to the planning board for site plan review.

Everett has already extended sewer and water lines, electric and fiber optic cable to Big Island via a conduit drilled beneath Paugus Bay. The engineering required boring 90 feet below the lake bottom and drilling through 1,600 linear feet of granite. The island is about 1,500 feet from the mainland.
Big Island in Paugus Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee is the site of a proposed nonprofit seasonal summer camp for underprivileged girls. The Laconia zoning board will consider a special exception for the project during a Nov. 20 meeting. (Courtesy)

Five seasonal cabins

Current zoning allows the 2.28-acre island, which is now equipped with city utilities, to be developed into five lots.

Everett's proposal calls for the existing seasonal camp on the island, which was built in 1950, to be renovated for use as the camp director's home and infirmary. An addition would house a multi-stall bathroom. Five seasonal cabins designed to "float" above ground atop six cement piers also would be built, one handicapped accessible. 

Another building would be constructed as a 60-seat dining hall/meeting room with an attached arts and crafts pavilion.

Each of the cabins would be equipped with L-shaped bunks and designed to house eight to 12 campers for eight to 10 weeks each summer. 

The current dock would be removed to make way for a roped-off swimming area at the island's existing beach. A new, larger three-fingered dock would be installed. Access to the island would be via boat from Paugus Bay Marina.

"The camp will offer a scholarship program for low-income families to provide opportunities for girls to enjoy the lake who might otherwise not get that outdoor experience," a development report prepared by Rossi Dennett of Front Range Land Solutions states.

Sound study

City tax records show that Everett has never sought an abatement and has continued to pay taxes on the island based on its $921,100 assessed value, even after he transferred the property to NH Big Island Company in 2013, the year after he bought it for $725,000.

In response to concerns expressed at October's ZBA meeting, Everett commissioned a sound study, agreed to install a split rail fence to prevent encroachment in the area of the loon nest, and has reached agreement with two local nurses to staff the infirmary at the camp.

The sound study filed with the city estimates the decibel levels from children engaged in camp activities will be at or below existing background levels recorded from abutting properties and "will likely be inaudible under most circumstances."


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