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Public works: Nashua meeting time must change

Nashua's Board of Public Works meetings do not work for the public. One alderman wants to change that. Surprisingly, he has met considerable resistance.

The city's Board of Public Works, which oversees major public works projects, meets at 2 p.m. on select Thursdays. The board settled some disagreement about that meeting time last December when it voted to continue its afternoon gatherings. At least, it settled the disagreement on paper. Alderman at-large James Donchess has not let it go, though, and that is good for the public.

Regarding the meeting schedule, Donchess has pointed out the obvious: holding meetings during weekday work hours reduces public participation. Not only that, it restricts the pool of people available to serve on the board.

"Too many of these positions run uncontested because a large number of people cannot even consider taking time off from their employment on a regular basis," Donchess said. "I just think it would be better for 90 percent of the people or more if the meetings were held in the evening."

To that end, Donchess has proposed a charter revision that would require the board to meet no earlier than 6 p.m.

Local public boards should always hold their regular meetings outside of regular work hours, as most do. That increases dramatically the public's ability to participate. Donchess is on the right side here, and it is disappointing that he has found so little support from other public officials that he has felt the need to turn to the people with a proposed charter amendment. It should not take that to set a reasonable meeting time for a public board.

Eric Church
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