MANCHESTER, N.H. – Near the tail end of what was already a marathon meeting, the Board of Aldermen Tuesday addressed a topic that was on everyone’s minds this week: snow removal.
Ward 6 Alderman Elizabeth Moreau began the discussion, seeking information on snow removal efforts over the past several days from Department of Public Works Director Kevin Sheppard.
Sheppard told Moreau and the board that he expected the first storm of the year to have less snow, putting a limited crew of plow drivers in place after the first 24 hours, with the bulk of plow drivers getting a break after an initial 24-hour shift.
Sheppard praised his drivers, but noted that his department’s snow removal abilities were stretched due to a large number of inexperienced drivers and the fact that snow continued for 18 hours after that first initial 24-hour shift.
Sheppard also noted that the city has had a difficult time finding applicants with the required commercial driver’s licenses to operate plows, citing the $13 an hour offered by the city as not competitive with offers of up to $18 per-hour driving jobs offered nearby by Amazon.
Alderman At-Large Joseph Kelly Levasseur asked why the city could not hire supplemental snow plow contractors for smaller streets comparable to the procedure in Nashua, with Sheppard replying that would violate the current collective bargaining agreement with the Department of Public Works’ union.
A snow emergency was declared in the city from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Sunday night and Monday night with a third day declared for Tuesday night as well. Under city ordinance, all vehicles must be removed from city streets during that timeframe or risk towing and impounding. However, many vehicles were not removed, inhibiting plowing efforts on side streets throughout the city.
The Aldermen also asked why more vehicles had not been towed to help facilitate plow removal. Manchester Police Department Chief Carlo Capano told the board that 88 cars had been towed on Monday evening. Additional vehicles could not be towed due to the fact that officers needed to stay with illegally parked cars for up to 40 minutes due to the tow truck shortage, stretching police resources to the limit.
Alderman At-Large Dan O’Neill advised that during snow emergencies police focus on ticketing cars versus towing, which would free up tow truck resources for critical areas and remind residents about the importance of moving their cars so plows could clear city streets.
During snow emergencies, the city provides free parking from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. at the Victory Parking Garage located adjacent to Victory Park near Amherst Street and Chestnut Street, the Pearl Street Lot on Orange Street between Elm Street and Chestnut Street and behind West Side Arena at 2 Electric St.
Cars not removed from city streets are subject to a $75 fine and a $110 fee to retrieve the vehicle from the city’s impound lot near Derryfield Park.
Additional information on Manchester Snow Emergencies can be found at www.manchesternh.gov/snow.