Nashua library

A Nashua alderman is asking her colleagues to support a pilot program that would allow Nashua high school and college students to park for free at the city library.

NASHUA — An aldermanic committee is supporting a proposal that would allow city students to park for free at the Nashua Public Library, although not all aldermen are on board.

A group of students has been working with Alderman Shoshanna Kelly to draft the pilot program, which could ultimately provide up to 20 free parking passes for students.

The passes, which would be distributed at the library, would enable Nashua high school or college students to park at the library’s parking lot free of charge for up to three hours at a time.

Currently, parking at the library cost 50 or 75 cents per hour, depending on the location of the parking spot.

The idea behind the proposal is to encourage students to utilize the resources at the library, according to Kelly, who said some of the newly renovated space in the lower level is underutilized.

There are 84 parking spaces in the library parking lot which garner more than $27,000 a year in parking revenue, she said.

“It is never full,” Kelly said.

Under the proposal, 20 percent of the spots could be reserved for free student parking. However, she stressed that not all of those spots would be used at the same time.

Giving students the opportunity to access free, essential library services is critical, said Alderman Tom Lopez, explaining that not everyone is in the same income bracket.

Tim Cummings, the city’s economic development director, cautioned city officials about implementing the pilot program.

“If you start to go down this path, I want to just make it abundantly clear you are opening the door for other groups to come before you,” he told the aldermanic infrastructure committee.

He mentioned a downtown parking study that is about to be initiated, which could yield some recommendations and insight into the matter.

Cummings suggested that the panel wait to vote on the pilot program until the parking study is complete. The downtown advisory committee also expressed concerns about the proposal, asking that the parking study be performed before any action is taken.

“When you start making these special exceptions, it is going to be very hard to police,” Cummings said.

Alderman Ben Clemons also favors completing the study before taking any action.

“I want to make sure we are doing things equitably,” Clemons said.

Lopez maintained that city students are the ones expressing a need for the free parking in an effort to provide them with educational services already offered by the library at no cost.

“It is my impression we are overcomplicating (the process),” Lopez said.

Kelly agreed that there should not be socioeconomic barriers associated with using the library.

The panel voted in support of the pilot program, which will now be considered by the full Board of Aldermen.