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November 27. 2012 10:34PM

Concerns about nonpublic Nashua aldermen meeting

NASHUA - Concerns about a nonpublic meeting held by city aldermen more than a month ago were raised by elected officials on Tuesday.

The meeting, which was held Oct. 23 at Nashua City Hall following a regular board meeting, highlighted possible real estate issues within the city's Millyard area and the future site of the Broad Street Parkway.

On Tuesday, some aldermen voiced problems they had with written minutes from the nonpublic meeting, saying there were too many redactions in the document.

Alderman-at-Large Barbara Pressly said the Millyard is "of enormous interest" to the citizens of Nashua, and that the topic should be discussed openly and publicly.

Her fellow board member, Alderman-at-Large Jim Donchess, said he also had issues with the nonpublic session. Noting numerous redactions, or blacked out portions of text within the minutes, Donchess questioned the need for such extensive privacy. He cited New Hampshire's Right-To-Know-Law, claiming many of the redactions do not meet the criteria needed to remain nonpublic.

The subject, he said, must reference a specific sale or acquisition of real estate that could potentially disadvantage a public body, or in this case the city.

Some of the property discussed during the nonpublic meeting is already in the public domain, argued Donchess.

He mentioned the possibility of razing the Bronstein apartment complex and the idea of perhaps moving a city department to that site if the apartments are demolished.

"It has already been said that is the city's plan. Why would that be redacted?" contended Donchess.

Most of the information discussed during the private meeting should have been public to begin with, he added. Stephen Bennett, deputy corporation counsel for the city, acknowledged that he made the redactions to the written minutes, along with engineer John Vancor with the Broad Street Parkway project, and Department of Public Works Director Lisa Fauteux.

Alderman Richard Dowd, Ward 2, disagreed with Donchess' point of view, saying he supported the redactions and editing because it is not in the city's best interest to disclose some of the sensitive information that was discussed.

"I had issues with it from the get-go," maintained Alderman-at-Large David Deane, questioning the method used to determine what comments were or were not redacted from the document.

Ultimately, the board rejected a motion to unseal the minutes - with the redactions - in a 6-6 vote. Aldermen then agreed to table the issue last night.

khoughton@newstote.com

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