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February 04. 2014 10:07PM

Rail talk delayed in Nashua

NASHUA — A scheduled discussion with a representative from the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority was unexpectedly canceled on Tuesday because the individual’s presentation was not first reviewed by the mayor, according to Alderman-at-Large Daniel Moriarty.

Dan Kelly, who was previously appointed by Mayor Donnalee Lozeau as a Nashua representative to the rail authority, was expected to discuss the issue of bringing commuter rail to Greater Nashua with the aldermanic Planning and Economic Development Committee.

Moriarty, chairman of the committee, said he was initially told that Lozeau did not have a problem with Kelly visiting the committee to share his insight. Kelly wrote a last minute letter to the committee to say he was withdrawing his presentation from the agenda, however, and instead deferring the matter to the mayor.According to Moriarty, Kelly essentially represents Lozeau on the rail authority, and since his presentation was not approved by her in advance, Kelly was no longer going to discuss rail with the panel — at least for now. Moriarty went on to say that volunteers of the mayor “are of no value to the aldermen.”

“I am still a little stunned by that,” Alderman-at-Large James Donchess said of what led to Kelly’s withdrawal of his presentation.

Moriarty assured the committee that he is addressing the situation. Kelly is set to meet with the mayor, he said, and hopefully his presentation will eventually be heard by the committee. Kelly was planning to update aldermen about the ongoing efforts by the NHRTA, the Capital Corridor initiative and Nashua-specific issues such as potential site locations for rail, paying for rail without subsidies, and land use and legislation surrounding rail.
 
If anyone can help bring commuter rail into Nashua, Kelly — also a member of the Nashua City Planning Board — may be the man, according to Moriarty, who said Kelly’s insight and background will be incredibly beneficial to city officials.
 
“I don’t know what the issue is,” said Alderman Ken Siegel, Ward 9, questioning what can be done to remedy the situation.

Two residents who were expecting to have a public discussion about rail on Tuesday expressed their support for bringing rail back into New Hampshire.“It would literally change our downtown into something incredibly vibrant,” said James Vayo of Spalding Street. The presence of commuter rail, according to Vayo, is a valuable city building tool that would allow for high intensity development around a downtown train station. A train station — if housed in the ideal location — would be driven by accessibility into the Boston employment market where high wage earners could live in a lower market-rate city, said Vayo, a representative with Visualize Nashua.

Barbara Beirel of Shetland Road said she was looking forward to talking about the importance of passenger rail. She urged the committee to move forward with preliminary plans for a rail station.

“Commuter rail is vital to Nashua’s success as a city,” she told aldermen. “… I beg of you, please start putting Nashua on the trail of success and financial independence.”

Meanwhile, a separate member of the rail authority — Tom Mahon, a Merrimack town councilor — has expressed interest in addressing the committee.

khoughton@newstote.com


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