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Friday, February 24, 2012

Lozeau on the issues

Here are some excerpts from Donnalee Lozeau’s meeting with The Telegraph editorial board on Thursday.

Nashua unions agreeing to increased health insurance premiums retroactively and calling them out during the State of the City speech:

I was very up-front last year when putting the budget together about my expectations about where the costs were going to go and what we had to do as far as trimming costs for the upcoming budget year. … My goal was to be a city that didn’t have to do any layoffs. … I think it’s important to give people an update of where we are with that, and that’s what I did yesterday. I was very clear there are 544 employees that have not agreed to my request. … All of those unions that have not come to the table, nine of them, are at impasse. One of the things we have done differently this year is when we opened up with our ground rules, I told them I was going to talk publicly about what I asked for from the unions. I don’t know why anyone would think that borders on unfair labor practice.

The city’s attempt to acquire the last developable piece of Pennichuck land, known as Parcel F:

The developer is still willing to talk to us. The Parcel F sale has taken place. But, as I remind people, there’s an emotion driving Parcel F, because it feels like it’s the last piece of developable land in the city, and you’re buying Pennichuck and there you are, the last piece of land is gone, and I understand that. In 2005, many of us weren’t paying attention to it. Some were … The city would prefer that Parcel F not be developed. That would certainly be our preference. I think the majority reason for that is it would just feel better to say that we stopped the last land deal.

Downtown improvements:

It’s time for a face-lift. I think our downtown is great. … It’s time to look at it and refresh it. The brick sidewalks, they’re beautiful, they’re not practical. They weren’t done with full bricks; they were done with pavers, so they are 1⁄ 4-inch. They are constantly up. … Women with heels walk out of their shoes; people with walkers, it doesn’t work; people with wheelchairs, frankly, can’t get around diners and trees. … We’re looking at going back to a concrete sidewalk with brick trim. Some people like the idea, other people not so much. People who have walking challenges really like the idea. People that don’t really love the aesthetics of the bricks. … In a perfect world, some people say, ‘Why don’t you go and get a $3 million or $4 million bond and just get all the work done?’ I don’t think that’s good for business. … I think we have to look at downtown block by block, engineer what has to be done, and then lay out a priority plan for how and when we’re going to do it.

Bringing commuter rail to Nashua and the plan for a rail station at Exit 36:

My very first year as mayor, I put together a transportation group and said I want them to take a 30,000-foot view, because every time we talked about transportation in Nashua, we kept getting all knotted up around the Broad Street Parkway and nobody was talking about what else. … In that view, Exit 36 South came back to the table. And it seemed to me we’re talking about rail, it goes to Lowell, what if we did something here? … What if we had a location on our border that had all of that – train, bus, whatever? I talked to Commissioner Campbell, who at the time was the DOT commissioner. He talked to the DOT commissioner in Massachusetts, and they were very interested in a partnership. When I met with the Tyngsborough Board of Selectmen, and Leon Kenison at the time came with me, and we laid out the maps for them at one of their public meetings and they got on board unanimously with a plan. I think that’s probably the best hope to get rail to Nashua in an affordable way … Within a year, I’d like the (Exit 36) study completed and the next steps identified.