Claremont City Council approves agreements for bike shop at Arrowhead lodge

Arrowhead Recreation Area in Claremont, N.H., is busy with tubers, skiers and snowboarders on Dec. 30, 2010. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Arrowhead Recreation Area in Claremont, N.H., is busy with tubers, skiers and snowboarders on Dec. 30, 2010. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

By PATRICK O’GRADY

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 08-25-2023 8:04 PM

CLAREMONT — With the city’s approval of two separate operating agreements, one with the Arrowhead Recreation Club and one with The Wheel House bike shop, the shop’s owners said they are eager to start work in the lodge to prepare for their move.

The agreements, approved by the City Council, 7-2, on Wednesday, with councilors Andrew O’Hearne and Jim Contois opposed, will allow the bike shop, now located at the Claremont Junction, to lease most of the main floor of the Arrowhead lodge. The lease is $24,000 a year and includes the requirement that The Wheel House maintain the mountain bike trails on the 204-acre city-owned property.

The club’s agreement does not require a lease payment, but it will have to pay the city utility costs related to winter operations and 10% of any special event net proceeds. It also has to maintain its equipment and tubing and ski trails at its expense.

There is a separate memorandum of understanding between the club and The Wheel House, which spells out how the lodge space and expenses are shared.

The MOU establishes a viewing seating area on the main floor with chairs and a large table by glass windows that look out on the hill. People will be able to enter the lodge off the deck and walk through the bike shop showroom to access ticketing and concessions. The basement also will have a cafeteria during the winter activity months.

“We are now figuring out the timeline for us and for ARC,” shop co-owner Eli Burke said Thursday at The Wheel House.

Building permits, contracts, construction and other considerations are expected to be worked out in the coming weeks and months. As to when The Wheel House will occupy the lodge, is a date uncertain.

“Nothing is set in stone right now,” co-owner Matt Hall said.

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Work will include a new wall separating the bike shop from the ticket and concession area, which is at the back of the lodge.

At the council meeting, City Manager Yoshi Manale said it would cost $19,000 to convert two bathrooms in the basement to wheelchair-accessible.

But Planning and Zoning Director Nancy Merrill said that may not be necessary because two bathrooms on the main floor are accessible. One will definitely remain and the other may also, depending on the construction plans, Merrill told the council.

No one on the council voiced any objections to the agreements, which were approved with minimal discussion.

Chuck Allen, a founding member of the Arrowhead Recreation Club who has volunteered helping to improve and operate winter activities for more than 20 years, again expressed his staunch opposition to the agreements at the council meeting.

Some community members are concerned that interest in winter activities, including skiing and tubing, will decline without full use of the lodge.

The loss of a popular venue for hosting a variety of events such as parties, reunions and baby showers at a reasonable price is what troubled Allen the most.

“I have no problem with mountain biking at Arrowhead,” Allen said “It is the loss of the lodge for public access that is the problem. The city unnecessarily shut it down.”

The agreements replace the current Arrowhead lease with the city that was set to expire in 2025. According to city officials, the lease did not allow the Arrowhead club to rent out the lodge space, which it had been doing for years.

Instead of offering to modify the lease so residents could continue to use it for different activities, Manale elected to stop the club from renting the lodge.

Allen noted that since that happened, there have been no events, which are now supposed to be organized and scheduled through the Parks and Recreation Department.

“A simple change to the lease could have been done,” Allen said, before being cut off by Girard because he had spoken for the permitted three minutes.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.