Zoning board member will not return

The reappointment of Zoning Board of Adjustment member Judy Nesset came to a screeching halt last week.

Nesset, a veteran board member, was scheduled to appear Monday before the Personnel/Administrative Affairs Committee. But Alderman-at-Large Jim Tollner said Nesset did not appear before his committee because her proposed reappointment to the board had been yanked.

City leaders had expressed concerns about Nesset, the vice chairman of the board, especially considering she stepped down from the panel twice and then advocated on behalf of two of her own projects.

In an interview before her nomination was pulled, Nesset said she did not believe appearing before the board on her own behalf was inappropriate. The cases were “very reasonable and logical,” she said. The board approved both applications.

In the past, Nesset hired an attorney to represent her and did not appear at the meetings.

She also had a financial interest in the Stellos Stadium land, for which the city ended up paying $1.725 million.

The former owner, 585 West Hollis Associates, had paid $950,000 for the property in a bankruptcy sale just weeks before the city seized it. Nesset said the company’s project was long in the works, had interested buyers and would have made much more money than the city paid for the land.

Mayor Bernie Streeter nominated Nesset for another term after hearing from other zoning board members supporting her. But then he withdrew Nesset’s name at her request, Streeter said.

Letter from Iraq

The local Red Cross chapter recently got an atypical thank-you note for organizing a donation drive for U.S. troops in Iraq. It was unusual in that it was a handwritten letter from a soldier and not a form letter from headquarters.

Army Sgt. Robert O’Rourke, an engineer stationed in Iraq, thanked the Greater Nashua and Souhegan Valley chapter for the package he received.

The chapter sent 350 boxes of candy, books, board games, hygiene items, stationery, pens and other items. The goods were donated from people all over the area, including significant contributions from public schools in Brookline and Hudson and Nashua Christian Academy, whose students and staff raised $1,500 to help pay for postage.

Military brass usually send formal thank-you letters, but only one other time has the chapter received a personal note from a soldier, Emergency Services Director Bob Scheifele said.

Scheifele doesn’t know where O’Rourke is from, but knows where he is now: on the ground in Iraq. The chapter is pleased with O’Rourke’s letter, Scheifele said.

O’Rourke wrote: “To many of us in places where there is no phone, email, or any other means of communication, your packages are a connection with home! Because of this, it makes it a lot easier to wake every morning & do what we know the people in this country try to injure, kill, or demoralize us for.”

Bump in the road

A few years ago, people living around Ashland Street were the guinea pigs for the early introduction of traffic-calming devices, tools to slow traffic in residential neighborhoods.

The city first tried speed bumps. But the bumps proved to be more annoying then helpful, so out they went.

A local law was introduced to stop rush-hour drivers from using the road as a shortcut from Amherst Street. Still not enough.

Now, the city will try a bump-out to slow down the drivers, thanks to an ordinance sponsored by Ward 2 Alderman Tim Nickerson.

At a cost of $5,000, the curb at the intersection of Ashland Street and Edgewood Avenue will be tweaked so drivers turning at the intersection will have to ease up on the accelerator.

Kerry and chili

Two short years ago, there was much ado about using the City Hall computer system for a brief announcement that Republican Sen. John Sununu – then a candidate for the Senate – and ex-NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani would be in the auditorium.

On Wednesday, presidential wannabe Sen. John Kerry spent time at the Lake Street fire station.

The junior senator from the Bay State was an invited guest of the city’s firefighters’ union, Local 789.

Fire Chief Mike Buxton explained that the Board of Fire Commissioners gave the OK for the labor union to host the get-together at the building.

“It’s a visit and there will be chili,” Buxton said before the event, adding the only plan was to move out the deputy fire chief’s SUV to make room for the gaggle of Kerry supporters and press.

Buxton said there was no payment for use of the public building.

“There’s virtually no cost,” he said, adding that the event was “not unusual.”

Four years ago, Vice President Al Gore made an appearance at the station for a rally.

Holiday spirit

Singers in the Birch Hill Elementary School chorus, known as the Birch Hill Score, under the direction of music teacher Debbie Kneeland, entertained the throngs filling the rotunda in City Hall on Thursday.

The occasion was the annual tree-trimming celebration, as student representatives from the city’s elementary schools hung their own ornaments with care on the artificial tree.

The festive event included a round of singing non-religious holiday songs, tree trimming and a reading of the popular “ ’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” followed by refreshments with Streeter.

“Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night,” announced Juliana Wiele, a sixth-grader at Birch Hill.