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March 13. 2013 11:29PM

Nashua's snow budget almost gone

NASHUA - Spring can't come soon enough in Nashua, as city officials are dealing with a nearly depleted snow removal budget for this winter.

"Right now we are praying there is no more snow this season or we will have to look at our trust fund," said Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, explaining the $1.2 million snow removal budget has almost been exhausted.

On average, the city uses about 8,000 tons of salt each winter, along with 1,500 to 2,000 tons of sand, with this year being no exception, according Roy Sorenson, streets superintendent for the Nashua Public Works Department.

"It has been a pretty hectic winter this year," said Sorenson, adding about 2,500 gallons of fuel is used during each major snow event in the city.

Several smaller snowstorms, coupled with February's Nemo storm that dumped two-feet of the white stuff, has kept crews busy throughout the past few months, he said.

Some city officials voiced frustration this week with the winter cleanup operations.

"It was terrible this last time around," said Alderman Paul Chasse, adding his neighborhood on Balcom Street in Ward 6 was horribly plowed.

Sorenson acknowledged that it is not easy plowing the city, which has more than 200 miles of sidewalks, 1,400 streets to plow and more than 765 lane miles. All hands are on deck during storms, and 20 additional contractors are typically hired to assist, Sorenson said.

Lozeau added that each year, the Board of Public Works adjusts the city's snow plan to make it more effective and efficient based on feedback from citizens, city workers and the schools.

About 85 employees are called in to assist during each snowstorm, using 60 pieces of snow-removal equipment, said Sorenson.

There are 41 citywide plowing routes, along with 12 primary routes that are pretreated before the snow falls, he said.

"There is quite a bit of area to cover," Sorenson said. The school routes are a priority, he said, followed later by the downtown area, parking lots and eventually sidewalks.

Alderman Diane Sheehan said more needs to be done to remove vehicles that are illegally parked on city streets during snow emergencies.

"It is a problem," stressed Sheehan, complaining about a U-Haul truck that was parked on or near Orange Street for more than six hours during the last snowstorm.

Sheehan said she called the city's snowline and local police repeatedly, but the vehicle was never towed from the site. Chasse agreed, saying it is not ideal when plows have to clear snow around parked vehicles.

He questioned whether inspections are ever completed to follow up on contracted snow removal operations. Sorenson said inspections do take place and are quite thorough.

Wednesday is the first day of spring, and city officials are hoping that will mean an end to the snow - at least for this season.

khoughton@newstote.com

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