Wednesday, December 17, 2014
My Account  | Login
Nashua;43.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/novc.png;2014-12-17 21:29:32
Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sunshine Week: City assigns vehicles to some supervisors – and public works gets the hybrids

NASHUA – Public Works not only has the most city vehicles assigned to specific workers, the division also arguably has the coolest.

Each of the four superintendents in the Public Works division gets a car that either is powered by compressed natural gas, or runs on a
hybrid mix of electric energy and diesel fuel. Also, the operations manager and director drive a city CNG or
hybrid vehicle assigned to them. ...

Sign up to continue

Print subscriber?    Sign up for Full Access!

Please sign up for as low as 36 cents per day to continue viewing our website.

Digital subscribers receive

  • Unlimited access to all stories from nashuatelegraph.com on your computer, tablet or smart phone.
  • Access nashuatelegraph.com, view our digital edition or use our Full Access apps.
  • Get more information at nashuatelegraph.com/fullaccess
Sign up or Login

NASHUA – Public Works not only has the most city vehicles assigned to specific workers, the division also arguably has the coolest.

Each of the four superintendents in the Public Works division gets a car that either is powered by compressed natural gas, or runs on a
hybrid mix of electric energy and diesel fuel. Also, the operations manager and director drive a city CNG or
hybrid vehicle assigned to them.

The city responded to a Right-to-Know request from The Telegraph by providing a list of city vehicles assigned to various positions. The city also provided a record of mileage
reimbursements of city employees.

City vehicles are to be used only to travel to and from work, and for work-related duties while on the job, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said.

Beyond that, the city is working on revising the policy for the vehicles’ use, and who gets them, she said.

“It’s one of the policies we’re developing now, because it hasn’t been updated since 1994,” Lozeau said.

Few city workers get to use a city vehicle, Lozeau said. For the others, there’s a floating vehicle that employees share, she said.

That vehicle is a Crown Victoria that once was reserved for the mayor’s private use, and was used by former Mayor Bernie Streeter when he occupied the corner office. That’s the same model city vehicle Streeter was driving in Manchester in 2004 when he hit a taxi cab and asked the driver “Do you know who I am?” He then parked the car in a private lot and it was later towed by Manchester police because Streeter failed to identify himself at the scene of the accident.

Lisa Fauteux, Public Works director, drives a city-provided Honda Civic that runs on compressed natural gas. The Civic gets the equivalent of 32 or so miles per gallon. CNG is cheaper than diesel or gasoline, and in early March cost $2.30 a gallon.

“They’re great vehicles, Very dependable,” Fauteux said of the city’s CNG fleet.

City buses and some other vehicles also run on CNG and fill up at a station, open to the public also, near the Street Department on Riverside Drive.

When Fauteux first got her vehicle, she drove to inspect other vehicles on Long Island, N.Y., and made it back to Nashua on a single tank of gas, she said.

“I thought that was pretty amazing,” Fauteux said.

As for the need for six people in Public Works, the city’s largest division next to schools, to drive cars provided by the city, it’s partly because the division’s various departments are scattered throughout Nashua, Fauteux said.

For example, the solid waste department is at the landfill off West Hollis Street, the wastewater treatment plant is off Sawmill Road near the Merrimack River on the east side, the recreation department is at Greeley Park, and the streets department is on Riverside Drive.

Plus, the superintendents are “out there on a daily basis taking care of infrastructure,” Fauteux said.

The Public Works Division got the hybrid or CNG cars “because they’re the ones that have come in for purchase,” Lozeau said.

Eventually, more city vehicles will be converted to CNG or hybrid vehicles, Lozeau said.

Also, fire and police departments have to explain why an alternate fuel vehicle wouldn’t work for them with they replace vehicles, Lozeau said.

The fire chief’s vehicle, a Ford Fusion, is a hybrid car, the only one in the department, Lozeau said.

The Ford Explorers used by the fire marshals aren’t hybrid, but they’re “downsized” from the larger vehicles the department once used, Lozeau said.

In the Police Department, the chief and the two deputies drive city vehicles, Chief John Seusing said.

“It’s been in existence for as long as I’ve been around,” Seusing, a 30-year veteran of the Nashua Police Department, said of the policy.

Driving the vehicles are certainly “a benefit,” but also helpful because of the night meetings the chief and deputies must attend, Seusing said.

Also, they could get called back to work any time of the night or weekend if a major incident occurs, Seusing said, adding that’s particularly true of the deputy chief in charge of the uniformed patrol division.

The Chevrolet Impalas and Buick Lesabre the city provides also are rotated back into the detective vehicles when vehicles are being repaired, Seusing said.

Because of that, the cars have to be “pursuit-rated,” meaning they have to be capable of pursuing a fleeing suspect, the chief said.

Seusing said he doesn’t know of a CNG or hybrid car that has that capability.

In the school department, only the director, assistant director and supervisor of plant operations –
the head of the maintenance and janitorial staffs – get city-owned
vehicles.

Even the school IT staff, who frequently travel among the city school buildings, use their own vehicles and get mileage reimbursement from the city, Conrad said.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Meighan on Twitter (@ Telegraph_PatM).