The Revelator recently received a call on the anonymous tip line about a sidewalk that's gone unplowed. Apparently, the sidewalk on the bridge over the Contoocook River has been covered in over a foot of snow for most of the winter. The caller said that she was unable to walk on the sidewalk, and was forced to walk in the road when she made the trip to the Riverhill Market to pick up her groceries. That was all the Revelator needed to hear.
A call to Chip Chesley at General Services revealed an age-old pact with the Town Line Trail Dusters snowmobile club to keep the sidewalk unplowed. The club's trail administrator and vice president David Murray said that the bridge sidewalk has remained unplowed every winter since it was built about 25 years ago. He said that the club is in charge of grooming the snow on the sidewalk to keep it flat for snowmobiles.
"If we didn't do what we've been doing," Murray said, "there would be a diagonal snowbank."
The club's intention was to maintain a safe crossing and spare snowmobilers a dangerous trip across an ice-covered river. Murray said that these kinds of pacts with local government are common in some smaller towns up north.
"We simply took a northern idea," Murray said, "and brought it south."
Murray also stressed that the increased traffic to the Riverhill Market is beneficial to the store's winter success. He said that snowmobilers visit the store for food and gas more often thanks to the ease of access.
"Some days that store sells more gas to snowmobiles than it does to cars," Murray said.
Murray apologized, on behalf of the Trail Dusters, to any pedestrians who may be troubled by the snowy sidewalk.
"I feel really really bad if we are inconveniencing anyone," Murray said. However, he also pointed out that the sidewalk across the bridge is not connected to sidewalks on either side, as there are no more sidewalks for miles in each direction.
"It's basically a sidewalk to nowhere," Murray said.