Snowplow Drivers Receive Raises; Worry About New Routes and Lack of Maps

Stephanie Lesiczka expressed mostly satisfaction with raises for private snowplow operators, but raised concern about new routes and a lack of maps. (WHAV News photograph.)

After what promised to be a simmering dispute between the city and private snowplow operators, both sides won accolades from Haverhill city councilors Tuesday night for striking an accord.

Councilors approved rates of between $65 and $135 per hour, depending on the type of equipment, for private contractors charged with plowing and hauling snow. One contractor, Stephanie Lesiczka, said that while the agreement is not everything she hoped for, contractors “can live with it.” She explained there are differences that can be addressed later.

“In five of the seven weight classes or categories, Haverhill is still below the average for 11 comparable communities that the mayor cited in our negotiations,” she said.

Members generally praised the talks between operators and Mayor James J. Fiorentini. Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien summed up the sentiment. “Everybody kept their emotions in check and you got something done.”

Haverhill Highway Superintendent Brian J. Zaniboni. (Courtesy photograph.)

While happy with their raises, Stephanie and Walter Lesiczka asked that new street assignments be delayed until next season. Walter explained contractors are not only being assigned unfamiliar routes, but new maps aren’t ready. Both the lack of familiarity and lack of maps risk damaging equipment and property if drivers strike curbing, manhole covers, gas valves and other unknown obstacles. Walter, who has plowed for 47 years, was critical of new highway superintendent Brian J. Zaniboni.

“We’ve tried to have some input with him and, without the help of the mayor, we didn’t get anywhere,” he said.

The Lesiczkas also recommended school bus stops be clearly marked and a committee be established, involving both Public Works officials and contractors, to discuss any future changes.

Councilor William J. Macek added he is concerned that an “out of town concern” drew the maps. Councilors approved his motion to ask the mayor to consider having new route maps issued as soon as possible for review, but not to use them until next season.