March 23, 2006

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Nashua Publisher's Note: Short-sighted city
By†Jeff Rapsis

News that Nashua city officials are considering the sale of the building that houses the Court Street Theater is enough to make a person scream.

Thatís appropriate, given all the drama staged there over the years.

And the likelihood that any new owner will not keep it functioning as a performing arts center is enough to make a person sick. Thatís appropriate, too, given the long-term damage this will do to the cityís quality of life.

How so? Because losing the Court Street Theater would be no different from having the Nashua River return to its once-horribly-polluted state. If we as a community care this little about our quality of life, then we may as well start dumping raw sewage and industrial waste back in the river and save the cost of all that, too.

Donít people around here get it? Doesnít Mayor Streeter or any of the aldermen understand? Doesnít anyone see that if a city fails to support quality-of-life issues on a sustained basis, Nashua simply will not prosper in the future?

Donít people see that city government is about more than fire trucks and garbage pick-up, but involves larger questions of leadership and vision?

Other communities get it, and Iím not talking about places in other states that benefit from some kind of completely different tax climate. Look at Manchester and Concord. Both have recently pursued city projects that make each place more attractive to businesses and residents.

In Manchester, not only did the cityís financial backing help build the Verizon Wireless Arena and a brand-new baseball stadium, but the city also recently completed $100 million in school renovations. And in Concord, the city is a major player in a six-story downtown development that includes a three-screen independent movie theater.

And Nashua? We canít even see the value of keeping open a modest downtown theater, one thatís in such a threadbare condition that itís an embarrassment to the community. Even so, it fills a valuable role as a place where several dozen performing arts groups keep alive the idea that Nashua is more than just a bedroom community.

Itís a tangible symbol of the cityís commitment to the performing arts. And if we canít have a facility as nice as the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord or Manchesterís Palace Theatre, the existence of the Court Street Theater shows we at least understand the value of keeping something going until the time when we can do more.

But not in Nashua, city of the short-term fix. It was that way when we built the ďnewĒ high school in the mid-1970s, and then cut so many corners that the whole building had to be gutted and completely rebuilt in two decades ó a decision we are now paying for dearly, in case you havenít checked your property tax bills lately.

Thanks, idiotic city leaders of my youth! Those of you who botched the high school job 30 years ago can at least take comfort that your bad judgment is on the verge of being covered up by a fresh wave of idiotic short-term thinking by city leaders with little concern for the long-term future of their community.


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