NASHUA — Aldermen killed a proposed regulation on Tuesday that would have prevented the local VFW from serving alcohol at a site it soon hopes to call home.
The aldermanic Planning and Economic Development Committee voted to indefinitely postpone a controversial ordinance to ban establishments from serving alcohol close to city schools.
Several city veterans attended the emotional meeting to voice opposition to the proposal, while a handful of parents were there supporting the initiative.
The proposed ordinance, drafted by Alderman Lori Wilshire, would have specifically affected the Nashua VFW Post 483, which is searching for a new home and is interested in possibly acquiring the former fire station at the corner of Arlington and Bowers streets.
If the ordinance was adopted, the VFW would not have been allowed to serve alcohol at the new post since the old fire station abuts Dr. Norman W. Crisp Elementary School on Arlington Street.
“The VFW was there for the city. Now it is time for the city to be there for the VFW,” said Lew Chipola, former commander. “… All we want is a place to call our home.”
Arguing that the VFW is not a bar or nightclub, VFW members stressed that the canteen is a small section of its organization, and that veterans are respectful and dignified people who do not cause rowdy commotions.
Wilshire’s daughter, Rebecca Cardin, who lives near the old fire station, said she is not against the veterans but believes it is irresponsible to allow an establishment that serves alcohol to be housed essentially on the same parcel of property as an elementary school where her second-grade daughter attends.
“The only reason this came out is because of common sense,” said Ward 3 Alderman Diane Sheehan, a co-sponsor of the proposal. She said that if the VFW pursues the acquisition of the old fire house, the city will essentially have a liquor license in a carpool lane.
Both Wilshire and Sheehan agreed they would support the VFW being housed at the vacant fire station if there wasn’t a liquor license granted.
“Just because we want to get a building in use doesn’t mean it is the best fit,” said Sheehan.
Alderman-at-Large Barbara Pressly said she felt deceived about the proposal, objecting to the process in which it was drafted. Describing it as an example of inappropriate government, Pressly said an ordinance should never be created for a single purpose.
She apologized to the veterans, saying they were victims of poor policy government.
“You are an asset, not just to the neighborhood, but to the community,” Alderman-at-Large Mark Cookson told the group, maintaining the ordinance was premature.
Holding up a photograph of her son, who is on his way to serve his second tour in Afghanistan, Wilshire stressed that she is not against the VFW but is against having alcohol so close to a school.
“It is not a good fit; I don’t care who it is,” said Wilshire, adding she was disappointed the parents of the elementary school were not more informed about the situation.
If the controversy was taking place in a more affluent neighborhood, she said, there may have been more discussion from email@example.com