NORWAY – A decades-long tradition of plowing snow into the center of Main Street may look odd, but it gets the job done, say officials and business owners.

“If there was a better way we’d do it,” said Town Manager David Holt of the need to plow snow from Wednesday’s nor’easter to the center of Main Street creating a nearly six-foot high barrier between the two sides of the street. Openings in the bank are made to allow vehicles to cross over to side streets.

Holt said if the snow was plowed to the side of the street people couldn’t use the sidewalks and access downtown businesses. In some cases, the snow would probably have to be plowed right up to the stores’ front doors.

Public hearings in the past over the issue have resulted in no better ideas, Holt said.

“I don’t know what other options they have,” agreed Claire Gelinas of Fare Share Market on Main Street and in front of one of the town’s municipal parking lots.

This week’s storm, which dumped more than a foot of snow in town, was challenging not only because of the severity of the snow but the fact that the Highway Department crew lost some of its veteran plow operators during the past year.

“We have some new folks in this year’s crew,” said Holt of those who were learning the snow removal technique for the first time. Although the streets were pretreated, with the wind blowing, crews had to plow the 70 miles of road again as snow blew back across the roads.

“If folks preferred something else we’d do it,” he said.

Chris Shorey of Western Auto, another Main Street business, said there simply doesn’t seem to be an alternative. “It’s pretty much a short-term inconvenience,” he said. Because many Highway Department workers are also volunteer firefighters, they have been working almost nonstop since Monday when two fires erupted in Paris and Norway. Shorey said flexibility is the key when dealing with the removal of the Main Street snow. “I can stand a little inconvenience,” Shorey said.

“We’ve stuck with this. It’s the least controversial way,” said Selectman Russ Newcomb, who remembers the streets being plowed in the same manner when he was young some 50 years ago. “Nothing’s perfect, but the alternative is to lose all the parking. This was most fair to the merchants.”

Holt said it may be Friday before the snowbanks are removed because of the need for the crews to get some rest.

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