Temple residents have unique community approach to snow storms
Union Leader Correspondent
January 01. 2018 9:07PM
TEMPLE - When the state said the town could no longer spend town dollars to plow private drives six years ago, resident Steve Anderson said there had to be a way to keep the system going for residents who relied on the service.
That was how the Temple Driveway Plowing Cooperative was created in 2011.
Run by a board of volunteers, who contract about eight snowplowers each winter, the snowplowing co-op is efficient, economical and unlike anything you will find in the U.S., Anderson says.
Dating back to the 1930s, the town of Temple had followed an old model many towns across New Hampshire had: town snowplowers would plow private driveways. It was considered a town service.
“Most towns in New Hampshire did it and we have been doing it since the '30s,” Anderson said.
Over the years many towns just stopped providing that service, especially after state officials began to frown upon it.
Temple never dropped the service, however. In 2011 the town was forced to stop when the N.H. Department of Revenue prohibited the town from budgeting for it again.
“You're forcing people to pay,” was the state's contention, Anderson said. “You can't take public money for private use.”
Anderson said he, like many others in Temple, hated to see the practice stopped.
“A lot of people were upset. I was an elected official at the time and I was doing some thinking,” Anderson said.
Anderson was a town snowplower at the time and proposed coordinating town snowplowing privately.
Residents agreed to volunteer for a board to run the co-op and attorneys Alec MacMartin and Honey Hastings helped with the legalities of forming a non-profit cooperative.
“We actually didn't change that much when you think about it,” Anderson said. “We just changed the way the money comes in.”
Approximately half of the town, about 230 properties, signed up that first year, Anderson said and the membership number has remained around 230.
“We've been doing it for six years and we plow about half of the driveways in town through this association, this co-op, and it's extremely affordable for our members and it's very good for our plow contractors because it's so efficient the way they got paid. It's just a win-win for everyone,” Anderson said.
The co-op bases its fee on the property valuations, the same way the town would charge for a service, and in doing so members pay half of what they would if they contracted a plower on an individual basis, Anderson said.
The cost changes from year to year, based on the number of storms, but on average members pay $28 per storm, he said, which is about 89 cents per $1,000 of value.
Members pay upfront, Anderson said.
“If it doesn't snow at all then that money carries over through next year,” he said.
One year members paid only 30 cents per $1,000 of valuation, Anderson said.
Anderson said he hasn't been able to find another town in the U. S. that has a snowplowing co-op.
“There's one close in Colorado, in some gated community, that does something close to what we do,” he said.
Anderson said it's working well in Temple and he hopes it continues.
“I manage the event of each storm and the directors of the board manage the web page, emailing and all of that. We have a dynamite system,” Anderson said.
“I hope Temple decides to do it for a long, long, long time.”