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Aldermen approve free student library parking, voting 9-5, with new day-pass system

NASHUA — After months of determination, a group of students won the right to three hours of free parking at the Nashua Public Library, thanks to a 9-5 vote by the Board of Aldermen this week.

“I think that if you look at the cost-benefit analysis of what we lose, versus what we could potentially gain, it’s kind of a no-brainer, especially when you consider that there is a sunset clause in it,” Alderman at Large Brandon Laws said.

In total, those voting in favor of free student parking included:

• Laws, Alderwoman June Caron, Alderman Richard Dowd, Alderman Ken Gidge, Alderwoman at Large Shoshanna Kelly, Alderman Tom Lopez, Alderwoman Mary Ann Melizzi-Golja, Alderwoman Jan Schmidt, and Alderman-at-Large David Tencza.

Those in opposition were Alderman at Large Vice President Michael O’Brien, Alderwoman Linda Harriott-Gathright, Alderwoman Patricia Klee, Alderman at Large Ben Clemons and Alderman at Large Lori Wilshire.

Alderman Ernest Jette was absent from Tuesdays meeting.

Kelly said the students who had been seeking the free parking put their efforts toward this matter during the summer time, researching it and working on it for about three months.

The procedure for the program will be that students:

• Park,

• Enter the library to obtain a pass,

• Take the pass to the car and place it in a visible place, and

• Return the pass to the library upon leaving.

Alderwoman Mary Ann Melizzi-Golja said she believes the information gained from this pilot program can then be included city’s parking study. Wilshire said she would like to see both the Downtown Improvement Committee and the students work on the study.

While some board members saw value in allowing students free parking, others stood in opposition of passing the ordinance, including Clemons. Although appreciative of the students’ work on their presentation, Clemons said he has a fundamental disagreement with the matter.

“I believe that what is right for one should be right for all,” he said.

Clemons does not believe it is fair to others if the students are singled out as one group to receive the free parking. He also sees that there is value to coming downtown for the many different resources available beyond the walls of the library.

“When you have a vehicle, you have to follow the rules of the road,” Clemons said. “If you park in front of a meter, you have to pay it. It is what it is. If the library isn’t worth going to because you have to pay, then don’t go. That’s really my opinion on this.”

Wilshire’s views are similar to those of Clemons.

“What I would like to see is this study that the students and the downtown people work together on so that it is beneficial to everyone,” Wilshire said. “Like Alderman Clemons said, if we give it to one group, why don’t we make it all free parking for everybody.”

Harriott-Gathright also said she believes if the city’s young people really wanted to attend the library, they would have the money.

“The library parking lot is only full when there is something going on there big,” Schmidt countered. “Otherwise, there are 10 spots that can be used. Nobody would be losing any money on this.”

Although said the students did a phenomenal job on this, she has been receiving a number of phone calls from groups asking why they too could not receive free parking, such as senior citizens.

“If we have an opportunity to let students park and encourage them to go to the library, I think we should do that,” Lopez said. “If we have an opportunity to better use resources like empty spaces by encouraging students to come use it, I think we should do that.”

Adam Urquhart may be contacted at 594-1206, or at aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.