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Colebrook tavern owner irked by Northern Pass listing

November 21. 2017 9:34AM

CONCORD - A Colebrook business owner is concerned that people seeing his tavern business included in a Northern Pass business directory, even under the tavern's previous name, could steer project opponents from visiting his establishment.

“There's a lot of opposition here and I'm trying to run a business with local people, and people are funny and if they see me in the directory, they may, they're going to assume I support Northern Pass,” said Rick Nadig, managing member of Colebrook Capital LLC, which owns the Black Bear Tavern, formerly the Dancing Bear Pub.

“I just prefer to stay neutral,” said Radig, who said perhaps his former partner agreed to participate. “I think jobs like that in the area helps businesses, so in that respect, I'm all for it.”

On Monday, the state Site Evaluation Committee released the names of 208 businesses included in the business directory, to be given to project contractors should the project gain approvals. Northern Pass officials fought to keep the list confidential, citing possibly being targeted by opponents. The committee's presiding officer last month ordered the names released.

The list includes businesses from 31 communities - restaurants, motels, a photography shop and scrap metal business. Franklin is the most represented, with 46 businesses listed. A lone Manchester business, National Powersport Distributors, is included, even though Manchester isn't along the proposed route.

The proposed $1.6 billion project, which runs through more than 30 communities, needs several state and federal approvals before it can start operating by late 2020. The route runs from Pittsburg to Deerfield and includes 60 miles of buried lines.

“During construction of the Northern Pass project, there will be many hundreds of workers, up to 2,600 at peak of construction, looking for services - everything from a bite to eat to finding a laundromat,” Northern Pass spokesman Martin Murray said, explaining the directory's purpose. “Our simple objective with the directory is to make it easy for the workers to find the businesses they are looking for. Think of it as analogous to a brochure you may receive at a hotel, listing area restaurants.”

Support of the project was not a requirement to be included in the directory, which will be published once construction begins, Murray said.

“The listing of a name is not a signal of a business' preference for the project, yet there will likely be some opponents who use this as an opportunity to make it seem so, and in so doing open those businesses up for unfair criticism and harassment,” Murray said.

Project opponent Jack Savage from the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests said Northern Pass “fumbled the ball by suggesting to the SEC that this list of businesses was an indication of support for their proposed project.

“When they were asked to produce the list, they balked, were ordered to produce it, and now three months later, made it public,” Savage said. “No surprise that nearly a quarter of those businesses are in Franklin, the one town out of 30 that has supported Northern Pass.”

Dan Ouimette, owner of Dan's Logging & Construction in Colebrook, said he is neutral on the project, but the project would “create a lot of jobs, which the North Country really needs up here.”


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