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Nashua alderman wants to make all boards meet in the evening

Union Leader Correspondent

February 25. 2013 11:23PM

NASHUA - Responding to recent criticism about the Board of Public Works and its afternoon meeting schedule, at least one alderman wants to ensure that all elected boards can meet at convenient hours for the public.

While reviewing a proposed resolution that - if approved by the Board of Aldermen and ultimately city voters - would amend the city charter to require the Board of Public Works to meet no earlier than 6 p.m., except for an emergency, Alderman Diane Sheehan said all elected boards should be included in the resolution.

The proposal should not be exclusive to the Board of Public Works but should also include the Board of Fire Commissioners, Board of Aldermen and Board of Education, Sheehan said on Monday during an aldermanic Personnel and Administrative Affairs meeting.

She attempted to amend the proposed resolution to include all elected boards while also adjusting the time to 5:30 p.m., but the committee ultimately tabled the discussion before any official vote was taken.

The Board of Public Works currently meets at 2 p.m. on Thursdays at least once a month, and has rejected on two previous occasions a motion by a Board of Public Works commissioner to hold the meetings in the evening.

Afternoon meetings limit potential candidates who may want to seek a position on boards, according to Sheehan.

Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, chairman of the Board of Public Works, said her board plans on discussing the proposed resolution at its next meeting in March and will again address that matter at that time.

"I would always caution us to be careful with charter changes," Brian McCarthy, president of the Board of Aldermen, warned his colleagues. If city officials approve the legislation too early, it could require a special election before the regular election in November, he said.

While McCarthy believes the Board of Public Works should meet at a more convenient time for the public, he said a proposal to address all elected boards meeting no earlier than 5:30 p.m. could have some unintended consequences.

"This is a big thing to do. I don't think it is necessary," he said. "I think the problem can be solved."

Alderman Paul Chasse Jr. agreed, describing the recommendation to include other elected boards as "excessive," maintaining it could open up a can of worms.

Other aldermen questioned whether the proposal would include subcommittees of all elected boards, which could create a problem for some Board of Education subcommittees that meet around 4:30 p.m., said Alderman Mark Cookson, who is hopeful the Board of Public Works will address the problem before it escalates to charter changes.

"I'm very embarrassed that this is necessary," said Tracy Pappas, a Board of Public Works commissioner who has been trying for months to move the meeting times to the evening. The board, she said, would likely be more diverse if the meetings were held later in the day.

The committee tabled the matter on Monday, but Chasse said if the Board of Public Works does not change the meeting times at its next regular gathering, the Personnel and Administrative Affairs Committee will promptly address the topic.

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