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  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    Facebook: Bob Hammerstrom at The Nashua Telegraph


    Hybrid cars have the priority parking outside the latest New Hampshire Liquor Store in Nashua.
Thursday, August 11, 2011

Liquor commission moves to quell furor over handicapped parking at new Nashua store

CONCORD – The state Liquor Commission chairman asked the commission on disabilities for advice Wednesday and vowed to settle the furor over hybrid vehicle parking at a new Nashua liquor store.

Joseph Mollica stressed that the current parking scheme that upset House Speaker William O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, and other lawmakers was temporary.

A permanent parking plan will offer “optimal accessibility” for citizens with disabilities, he assured.

“This has been a very challenging project because we were constructing a new building on the constrained site while simultaneously operating out of the old facility,” said Mollica, reading a statement at the outset of the commission’s weekly public meeting. “We acknowledge the concern expressed over the designation of hybrid and handicapped parking spaces at the store, and we look forward to the full completion of this project and the resolution of this issue.”

O’Brien and other lawmakers voiced displeasure that hybrid car spaces were placed closer to the front door of the liquor store than spaces for those with disabilities.

State liquor officials said the handicapped spaces were closer to the entrance to the liquor store/wine outlet and the public restrooms.

House Majority Whip Peter Silva, R-Nashua, called Wednesday for the immediate removal of the hybrid spaces and said there’s no defense for delaying it.

“I still want to know who even did it. Who is the one who came up with that idea?” Silva asked. “This makes no sense to me, and it has a lot of people rightfully upset.”

The building contractor, Pro Con, has a month to prepare a permanent parking scheme, Mollica said.

“Our goal is to design stores that are welcoming to all, as well as stores that promote energy conservation and save on operating costs,” Mollica continued. “We do not believe these are mutually exclusive goals. We are confident that the final parking plan, which will likely include expanding our current parking format, can achieve both of these important objectives.”

Mollica declined comment beyond his statement.

State officials sought to get a high “green” rating for environmental efficiency with this $3.3 million store on Coliseum Avenue that replaces a smaller one being demolished.

Choice parking spaces for fuel-efficient vehicles is one of the features that improve a public building’s LEED status – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The LEED standards, however, state they are exclusive of parking for the disabled.

State Democratic leaders claim it’s hypocritical for O’Brien and leading Republicans to defend the rights of those with disabilities while voting to cut state spending on programs that assist people with physical or mental impairments.

“If the speaker and Rep. Silva actually care about people with disabilities, they have a terrible way of showing it. They both supported a budget that cuts millions in services for our most vulnerable citizens, including people with disabilities,” said Harrell Kirstein, press secretary for the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

“How dare the speaker try to use people with disabilities to try to score cheap political points? The hypocrisy is amazing. That he would claim he cares about the disabled while he takes away services is disgusting.”

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com; also check out Kevin Landrigan (@KLandrigan) on Twitter and don’t forget The Telegraph’s new, interactive live feed at www.nashuatelegraph.com/topics/livefeed.