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November 28. 2012 9:36PM

Time change pondered for Nashua board meetings

NASHUA - Several weeks after a resident described the Board of Public Works' meeting schedule as restrictive government, the board will discuss a proposal Thursday to change the time it hosts meetings.

The Board of Public Works, comprised of the Mayor, an aldermanic liaison and four elected members, typically meets at 2 p.m. once a month. Several years ago, the board met in the early evening, which has since been changed.

Tracy Pappas, who has been a member of the Board of Public Works since 2008, requested that the board have a discussion about changing its meeting time to 7 p.m. beginning in 2013.

Concerns about the afternoon meeting times were raised several weeks ago by Robert Sullivan of 12 Stonybrook Road, who maintains that publicly elected boards should hold their meetings at a time when citizens can attend. By having meetings in the afternoon, Sullivan said it restricts the number of people who can attend and participate.

"This is unethical and again, not in the best interest of the citizens. What is going on now is not open government - it is restricted government," he said recently.

Due to work obligations, Sullivan said he is unable to attend Thursday's meeting when the time change will be discussed, however he did email his concerns to several city officials.

"Hopefully, the Board of Public Works will do the right thing in scheduling these meetings to a time more suited for citizen participation," he wrote.

Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, chairman of the board, had said that there is ample opportunity for public participation, explaining the Board of Public Works often hosts neighborhood gatherings to collect feedback on important revitalization projects.

Lozeau explained that the members of the board jointly decide when meetings should be held, accommodating their various schedules. In addition, she said the primary reason why meetings take place in the afternoon is because staff members are readily available to participate at that time. Pappas said last month she sympathizes with Sullivan's concerns, which have also been voiced by Alderman-at-Large Barbara Pressly and resident Geoff Daly.

When Pappas ran for public office, the meetings were originally held at 5 or 5:30 p.m. on Monday. Eventually, the meetings were moved to 3:45 p.m. Thursday, which was less convenient for Pappas, who said they were then adjusted to 2 p.m. Still, Pappas admits that the evening hours should be considered for meetings, especially since the Public Works Division is taking less of an administrative role and more of a construction role in the city.

"We are talking about a lot of money here," she said recently, adding public input should be encouraged and welcomed.

Tuesday's meeting begins at 2 p.m. at the Division of Public Works Administration and Engineering Offices, 9 Riverside St.

khoughton@newstote.com


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