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Another View: Nashua does need to conduct its own review of commuter rail

May 14. 2013 6:52PM

I am writing in response to your Friday editorial titled, “Caution First: Nashua needs no rail study yet.” First, I feel obligated to point out that my proposed resolution will not cost taxpayers a penny. Nowhere in the text of the resolution does it suggest spending money. My choice of words for its title, “Commuter Rail Feasibility Study Ad-Hoc Committee” was meant to suggest that this small group would take advantage of and interact with the current state-run feasibility study.

I agree that there is no need for Nashua to spend any money on another study at the moment. If you rightfully remove your primary objection that the City of Nashua spend money, I ask you to answer this question: “Should a group of motivated individuals be allowed to volunteer on behalf of the City of Nashua to ascertain the implications of commuter rail on future actions required by the Board of Aldermen?”

Second: “Should a group of volunteers directed by Nashua’s Board of Aldermen be allowed to interface with the state group conducting the current study?” The answer to each of those questions is “Yes.”

Third, in regards to the two substantial reports of prior commuter rail feasibility studies which you allude to in your editorial, I ask: “Have you read them?” When I asked that question in the Nashua Aldermanic Chamber, the response I got was a collection of blank stares.

I have read the most recent study (with the term “Capital Corridor” in its title). In my opinion it does not draw the conclusion, as you claim, that commuter rail is not feasible. But it does itemize substantial cost estimates broken down into categories such as one-time construction, or ongoing maintenance, and by extent of service (e.g. Nashua only, the Manchester Airport included, the City of Manchester included, or Concord included).

While reading the report, it became clear to me that much work needs to be done to take advantage of the reports which already exist. In my opinion a decision to disallow a group of volunteers to read the reports and summarize them for your benefit is tantamount to a choice “to remain uninformed.”

The concept for this committee was offered to me by an individual with substantial experience at the local and state levels, with decades of experience as a businessman and as an appointee on state level commissions. Since its first reading in the Board of Aldermen, I have been contacted by other individuals requesting that they participate — individuals who are both for and against rail. Without the aldermanic endorsement of an ad-hoc committee, these volunteers cannot perform the work they feel is necessary.

Further, the Charter of the City of Nashua has clauses which make it difficult for an individual alderman to perform work without the endorsement of the full board. There is no harm in allowing motivated and responsible volunteers to work on behalf of the City of Nashua.

With the above ideas in mind, please read the full text of my resolution and either watch an online broadcast of, or read the full minutes of, the Personnel and Administrative Affairs Committee Meeting (May 6, 2013) in which I elaborated further. The timing is right for a group of motivated volunteers to act upon the results of previous studies and interact with the current study to help prepare the Nashua Board of Aldermen to enable commuter rail service that is sustainable without requiring tax subsidies from the state.

Daniel Moriarty is the Ward 9 alderman in Nashua.

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