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Nashua mayor denies that she blocked rail presentation

NASHUA — Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said that a last minute decision to halt a recently scheduled rail presentation was not done at her request, as implied by city officials this week.

Lozeau said she was just as surprised to learn about Dan Kelly's withdrawal from the aldermanic Planning and Economic Development Committee agenda as the committee members themselves.

Kelly serves as Lozeau's designee on the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority, and was originally scheduled to give a rail presentation to the aldermanic committee on Tuesday.

Kelly emailed the committee earlier this week, however, to let members know that he would not be presenting his information to the committee but instead would be meeting with the mayor in March to further discuss the matter.

At least one committee member implied that Kelly's cancellation was because the mayor had not reviewed Kelly's presentation in advance.

"That is absolutely not true," Lozeau said this week. "I did not ask him to not do his presentation."

Lozeau admits she was unaware of Kelly's scheduled presentation until an alderman mentioned it to her.

"It would be helpful to know these things," said Lozeau, who did eventually reach out to Kelly to make sure that in the future she is kept in the loop on such matters.

As the mayor's designee, Kelly essentially speaks on Lozeau's behalf for the rail authority, so Lozeau said it is worthwhile to know in advance when he may be addressing elected officials to discuss the important topic of rail.

Kelly sent an email to Lozeau a few hours before the scheduled meeting to let her know he was not going to go through with the presentation, but Lozeau said she did not read the message until the following morning.

"I think it is unfortunate," she said. "I would have told him to go ahead and talk to the committee. I did not know he was going to withdraw."

Lozeau has been a vocal and strong supporter of bringing passenger rail back to New Hampshire. The Board of Aldermen has also been in support of the initiative, and early last year purchased two parcels at 25 Crown St. for $1.4 million to be used for a park and ride facility and possibly, in the future, a train station.Kelly was planning to discuss 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, said Alderman-at-Large Dan Moriarty, adding Kelly's insight and background will be beneficial to city officials.

Moriarty, chairman of the committee, assured the board that he is addressing the situation. Kelly is set to meet with the mayor, Moriarty said, and hopefully his presentation will eventually be heard by elected officials.

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