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A solution for Temple’s driveways

  • Steve Andersen and Honey Hastings of Temple were two of the driving forces behind the formation of the Temple Diveway Plow Cooperative. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Steve Andersen and Honey Hastings of Temple were two of the driving forces behind the formation of the Temple Diveway Plow Cooperative. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

  • Steve Andersen and Honey Hastings of Temple were two of the driving forces behind the formation of the Temple Diveway Plow Cooperative. (Ashley Saari / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Ashley Saari—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, December 27, 2017 7:53PM

For years, it was a tradition of sorts in Temple – when the snow flew, the town’s contracted snow plowers would clear out the resident’s driveways, as well as the roads. It was a practice that dated back to World War II and had persisted through 2011. That’s when the state officially put the kibosh on it: Town tax dollars couldn’t be used to clear private land.

It was Steve Andersen – one of the men the town contracted with for plowing – who first had the idea. If the town couldn’t continue the tradition, there was nothing saying that the citizens of Temple couldn’t organize something on their own.

Andersen knew the logistics of arranging the plows, he said. And practicing lawyers Alec MacMartin and Honey Hastings pitched in with the legal aspects of forming a non-profit cooperative. 

Hastings was one of the first to put her hands up to join the cooperative board, she said – and the cooperative itself.

“I didn’t know much about plowing at the time, other than as a resident in her 70s, I liked having my driveway plowed,” said Hastings.

In fact, Hastings wasn’t the only one quick to volunteer. By the time the first – early – snow fell that year, the cooperative was ready to operate.

“When I first thought this up, I never dreamed it would become what it has,” said Andersen in an interview on Tuesday.

What it has become is eight drivers with pickups or farm tractors, eight volunteer board members and 230 customers – including businesses and nonprofits such as the Temple Post Office, Temple Forest Monastery and Touchstone Farm – with driveways to plow whenever the snow piles up more than four inches.

In short order – very short order, said Andersen – the Temple Driveway Plowing Cooperative was born. They started recruiting customers in the late summer, and were put to test that first year with a 30-inch snowstorm over Halloween. With the system of plow drivers pretty much in place from previous years, the transfer from driveway plowing being town business, to being run by the cooperative went off without a hitch. And it’s been going smoothly pretty much ever since, said Andersen.

Shirley Quinn of Temple has been using the service since its founding year, after hearing about it from word-of-mouth about town. She says she prefers it to hiring a private contractor herself.

“It’s more dependable,” she said. “You know what you’re getting and they keep in touch by e- mail, so you know when they’re getting out there to plow.”

It’s a practice that’s worth looking into for other communities, said Quinn. 

“I would recommend it, definitely,” she said. 

The cooperative uses the same concept the  town does to pay for service – a price based off a flat rate times the per $1,000 of value of a property. If it’s a light snow year, the overcharge is applied to the next year to lower that year’s rate. It seemed a fair way to do it, said Hastings, since that was essentially how it was paid for when it was coming out of tax dollars, and other measurable things like driveway length don’t necessarily dictate how difficult an area is to plow or how long it takes. 

 The cost fluctuates year-to-year,  but has averaged about 89 cents per $1,000 of value, and about $28 per storm. That’s cheaper than just about any private plow operation you could find, said Hastings. And it benefits the plowers too – they don’t have to drive all over town to private customers, but have a set route clustered in one area.

“This is both ecologically and economically sound,” said Hastings. 

New members can join in winter, but there is an additional surcharge of $50. Standards and terms of service, new member applications and renewal applications are all available on the Temple town website at www.templenh.org/temple-driveway-plowing-cooperative-tdpc.