Aldermen ponder new fiber-optic lines

There is a maxim that one needs to spend money to save money.

That’s the quandary the Board of Aldermen faced as it weighed whether to borrow $1.3 million to pay for a fiber-optic cable system to connect city facilities.

It would replace commercial lines used for the Internet and telephone service that cost the city nearly $150,000 a year, an amount that is expected to increase.

Aldermanic President Brian McCarthy has likened the objections to not being able to afford paying $400 a month for a new car because you have to pay $450 to repair an old jalopy.

The project would save the city serious money, some $1 million over 15 years, according to Larry Hersh of the Cable TV Advisory Board.

A vote against the bond is not saving money, he said, but instead is going to cost City Hall by continuing the more expensive commercial service.

But others aren’t quite so sold on the matter – such as Alderman-at-Large David Rootovich. He said the savings might be there on paper, but he doubted taxpayers would actually benefit from it.

“This money will be used,” Rootovich said. “This money will be shifted somewhere else.”

People knew the idea was in trouble when Ward 4 Alderman Marc Plamondon, who is generally a reliable vote for these types of projects, voiced his concerns about it.

When it looked like the 10 votes needed to OK borrowing money were not there, the measure was passed back to the Budget Review Committee to try to find more votes.

Taste of the Granite State

If a Belarusian wanted to get a taste of New Hampshire, he’d probably attend a Manchester Monarchs hockey game and a Town Meeting in Madbury.

Well, that’s precisely what 15 civil and military leaders from the Republic of Belarus did last week.

Aside from observing Granite State culture, the Belarusian contingent participated in democracy-education initiatives and a series of emergency-planning and -response workshops. The visit was part of the Partnership for Peace program, sponsored by the University of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire National Guard and the U.S. Department of Defense.

“It was very instructive, very useful,” Col. Enver Bariev, the Belarusian deputy minister of emergencies, said Friday through a translator at a dinner at Martha’s Exchange in Nashua.

The contingent had a busy week, including a political discussion at St. Anselm College, emergency-response drills and planning with Elliot Hospital employees and city and state agencies, and a flight in a Blackhawk helicopter.

The emergency training was especially beneficial, said Valentin Rybakov, minister of the Belarus embassy. Belarusians had to respond to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, and so have emergency preparedness always in mind, he said.

“A nuclear or technical disaster knows no boundaries,” Rybakov said. “These things are transinternational. The international community has to come together.”

George Bruno, former U.S. ambassador to Belize, and Nashua resident Griffin Dalianis, a civilian aide to the secretary of the Army, both had a hand in arranging the visit.

“It’s a good exchange,” Bruno said. “It improves relations between our countries.”

Dalianis added, “Anytime we can work with another government to strengthen its democratic infrastructure is a win-win for them and the U.S.”

Leadership convention

It was like an alumni meeting Tuesday for the city’s chief executives.

For a brief time, three men who know the experience of keeping a hand on the city’s tiller sat in the aldermanic chamber.

The incumbent, Mayor Bernie Streeter, sat in his typical spot, to the right of the aldermanic president.

On one side of the room sat former Mayor Don Davidson. He urged aldermen not to support further funding of the city’s ongoing effort to convert Pennichuck Corp. into a public utility.

Davidson was ousted by Streeter in the 1999 campaign, and a Davidson write-in campaign to return to office fell short last fall.

On the opposite side of the room sat Maurice Arel, who presided in the corner office from 1977-84.

Ironically, Arel was not there to talk about Pennichuck, a company he headed from the mid-1980s to last spring.

Instead, Arel was wearing his library trustee hat. The trustees and aldermen held what is called a joint convention. The two boards appointed Arthur Barrett for another four-year term as a trustee.

The trio did not share any chitchat and went their separate ways after doing their business.

Authority action

Former Alderman Fred Britton received his spot on the Nashua Airport Authority.

After his appointment drew some objections two weeks ago, friends of Britton and airport officials showered him with praise in front of the Board of Aldermen last week.

Among his supporters were Marylou Blaisdell, chairwoman of the Board of Assessors, as well as Dalianis and an airport business leader.

Britton critic Lee Zompetti repeated her objections to the appointment.

In the end, the vote was 10-4 to put Britton on the authority, which watches over the municipal airport on Perimeter Road.

The negative votes came from Rootovich, Ward 1 Alderman Kathryn Vitale, Alderman-at-Large David Deane and Alderman-at-Large Paula Johnson. Ward 7 Alderman Lori Cardin had not yet arrived for the meeting.

Nice under the weather

Dot Nice’s absence was noted by city leaders.

Nice, who is known in some circles as Miss City Hall, missed the aldermen’s meeting Tuesday. It was an unusual circumstance for Nice, who faithfully attends aldermanic meetings in her role as government watchdog.

Many aldermen and the mayor wished her a speedy recovery from a bout of pneumonia.

Happy birthday

City Treasurer/Tax Collector David Fredette zips around town with a license plate that clues people in to his birthday.

The day passed Monday, but the statute of limitations has not expired for belated birthday wishes.

Nashua . . . From the Inside was compiled by staff writers Andrew Nelson and Albert McKeon.