Save a little coin at some garages

To add a little ho, ho, ho to the cha-ching downtown, parking meters in the High Street and Elm Street garages will be free starting Wednesday until after New Year’s Day.

Mayoral aide Mark Sousa said the city’s goal is to help downtown merchants and shoppers during the Christmas shopping season.

And an idea is being floated to permanently lower rates at meters in the garages in 2005.

Sousa said the financial situation still needs to be examined, but the Downtown Parking Committee’s idea is to set the garage rates between 25 cents and 35 cents an hour instead of the 50 cents an hour that is the prevailing rate downtown.

The change would give downtown workers a cheaper parking option, and merchants might want to buy the debit-like parking cards to distribute to workers, Sousa said.

Still in the zone

Many months ago, there was much ado about rewriting the city’s zoning codebook.

Aldermen on the Planning and Economic Development Committee continue to labor through the weighty tome. In more than an hour of work at a meeting last week, the committee reviewed about 30 pages of the 400 or so pages.

Members of the business community, such as Richard Cane of the Flatley Co. and downtown businessmen Brad Whitney and Larry Lesieur, have joined the committee in its efforts.

Last week, Whitney was the sole representative from the business side.

Alderman-at-Large David Rootovich, committee chairman, said the work would continue into 2005 before the committee is done with its review.

Can’t get here from there

Congressman Charlie Bass R.S.V.P.’d to an invitation to attend an aldermanic committee meeting to discuss the Nashua-Lowell commuter rail project.

Alas, a little thing like voting to overhaul the nation’s intelligence-gathering system kept him in the nation’s capital.

But he sent a missive to Rootovich and Mayor Bernie Streeter and the Board of Aldermen before the meeting. Bass repeated his support for the $70 million rail project and let city leaders know the impasse is personal to him.

“Having expended much effort and staking a great deal of personal credibility in Washington on this project, no one is more disappointed than I that progress has been stalled at the state and local level,” he wrote in the one-page letter.

The committee endorsed a plan for the city to contribute its $14 million share with the help of a special tax district around a train station.

Streeter stumps

Streeter last week unveiled the city’s choice for the “One City, One Book” program. He remarked, from prepared notes, about the themes of redemption and betrayal that dominate “The Kite Runner.”

With his notes by his side, Streeter then extemporaneously touted the many benefits of the Nashua Public Library.

Library workers, of course, had just seen the Board of Aldermen reject a two-year contract. Streeter pounced on the opportunity – as Steinbeck would a rich, descriptive phrase – and urged audience members to approach aldermen and remind them of the library’s offerings.

Streeter said aldermen probably don’t realize the importance of the library.

No gift wrap needed

Just in time for Christmas comes a reminder from the Treasurer’s Office: Pay your taxes.

City Treasurer David Fredette said property taxes must be postmarked by Friday before a hefty interest rate of 12 percent is attached to the bill.

Fredette said the good citizens of Nashua should avoid standing in line and mail in their tax payments. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope, and a receipt will be sent back after the collection season has passed. A canceled check or mortgage statement will also satisfy Uncle Sam and the IRS.

NFR promotions

Recent promotions of several members of Nashua Fire Rescue were recognized Wednesday night at a pinning ceremony at the Lake Street Community Fire Station.

About 30 friends and relatives of the firefighters as well as members of the Board of Fire Commissioners attended the ceremony in the large garage bay of the station.