Mattapoisett Highway Department looks for funds to winterize

Nov 8, 2018

At a Nov. 8 Board of Selectmen meeting, a request for funds for an additional multipurpose vehicle which could be used for plowing as well as other functions led to a discussion on sidewalk safety and plowing responsibility.

Barry Denham, the Highway Surveyor, appeared before the board to discuss article eight of the proposed warrant for the Special Town Meeting. He requested the purchase of a $110,000 multipurpose device with several attachments that would “greatly increase our capacity for plowing sidewalks and other work.”

Although the highway department already has some plowing equipment, it is not meant to handle sidewalks. The town planned to purchase a similar device as part of its ten year plan, but Denham reassured the board members that the new machine that he presented them would take over the functions of the machine originally outlined in the plan. He also worries about the timing of the long-range plan.

“I get a lot of pressure on sidewalks,” Denham said, “And the day when we are pressured into doing some sidewalks I have to have the equipment ready.”

Though the Selectmen agreed that many people in Mattapoisett like to walk, even in the winter, Paul Silva asked why the town needed to invest so much in clearing sidewalks when residents are responsible for clearing the sidewalks in front of their houses.

With only five full time staff members, the town highway department doesn’t have the manpower to consider clearing all sidewalks, he pointed out. 

Denham replied that the highway department tries to plow the sidewalks from Route 6 to the Town Hall, the sidewalks by the Library, Saint Anthony’s Church and the Mattapoisett Congregational Church, especially if the weekend is approaching.

Jordan Collyer suggested that the town do a survey to determine “what’s the split on what would fall on us versus homeowners,” in terms of plowing responsibility. 

He added, “We need to determine what would be nice to have and what’s going to be a good business decision.”

The Selectmen do not want citizens to think that they town will take on increased plowing responsibilities because they have a plow. But Town Administrator Michael Gagne agreed to bring it up with the Capital Committee to see if the purchase could be moved up.

The Board of Selectmen decided not to approve the plow, but want to review the issue of sidewalk responsibility further.