RYE, N.H. (AP) – Gov. Craig Benson canceled a Friday meeting with the Rye Board of Selectmen to discuss a construction project when questions were raised over whether the meeting was public and press could attend.

“The governor had an interpretation from the attorney general that it was not a public meeting,” said the governors press secretary, Wendell Packard. “In order to prevent setting a precedent that the governor did not want to set, he decided to hold off and sort through what the law was.”

Town officials have questioned how Benson could remove the town road project from the Department of Transportation’s Ten Year Plan when it had already been approved by the Legislature.

The proposal includes reconfiguring an intersection and installing a traffic signal. Benson has been quoted as saying he thought the traffic problems at the corner could be solved by just installing the signal.

Packard said the meeting would be rescheduled to a date yet to be determined. The state Department of Transportation has given selectmen until April 1 to endorse one of two proposals for reconstruction of the Foye’s Corner intersection.

After many requests to meet with the governor, selectmen were told earlier this week to come to Concord on Friday.

Town Administrator Earl Rinker said the selectmen’s office first learned of the postponement late Friday morning from a reporter at the Union Leader who had requested to attend the meeting.

Packard said the selectmen weren’t notified until late Friday morning because his office was first trying to reach Rep. Dan Hughes, R-New Castle, who had arranged the meeting for the selectmen.

Hughes, who had driven from Rangeley, Maine, to attend the meeting, said he learned the meeting was off when he called selectmen on Friday afternoon.

Mills, however, said he would probably not vote for either one of the Department’s plans if he’s unable to convince the governor to reinstate the traffic-light solution.

Packard declined to comment on what might happen if it turns out that the law allows members of the press to attend the meeting with selectmen.

AP-ES-03-27-04 1154EST



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