City’s new Street Team is ready to get to work

The Street Team will occupy half of the Welcome Center which also houses Manchester Transit Authority information services, at the corner of Elm and Manchester streets. Photo/Carol Robidoux

MANCHESTER, NH – The city’s new StreetPlus team is trained and ready to go – starting July 2 their mission will be to beautify the city through basic services – including trash pick-up and graffiti removal – within a radius downtown, such as picking up loose litter, removing graffiti and weeding. 

StreetPlus president Steve Hillard says that although this is a 12-month pilot during which the city will evaluate “proof of concept,” he knows the what happens next, by heart. 

“I’ve been doing this since 2000 and the proof of concept will be immediate,” Hillard says. “These programs don’t fail. People will see the value immediately. We’re employing locals with a good salary and benefits. You’ll see immediate improvement and the perception will be that the city is taken care of and safe.”

And that is what StreetPlus has been doing for cities for more than two decades, supplementing city services, a much-needed boost especially at a time when municipalities have an abundance of open positions and are stretched thin, Hillard says.

In Manchester there are six team members and one team manager – Mike Corl, previously of the city’s parking division – he’s one of two team members who applied for the open positions once they heard about them. 

The pay is good, says Hillard – the six crew members start at $18 per hour and they get medical, dental, vision and life insurance plus short-term disability and accidental death benefits, PTO, free uniforms, paid training and direct deposit. 

Although they will mostly be on foot, the StreetTeam will have use of two vehicles a new Ford F-150 and a John Deer gator. They will be dispatched to take care of whatever issues are identified in one of two downtown zones – premium and standard (see map above). Premium is for the downtown proper while the regular zones expand out in both directions on either side of Elm Street, Hillard says, and south to Queen City Avenue and north, to W. North Street.

Hours of operation are  Monday through Saturday,  7 a.m. to 4 p.m. First thing in the morning they will spend about two hours picking up loose litter. After a break they will go back out and do what Hillard describes as “detail cleaning – including graffiti clean-up and weed abatement. They have a pressure washer for cleaning sidewalks and hot spots as well as buildings throughout the day, based on requests that come through the city’s See Click Fix app, for now, or a direct Street Team portal, which is still in the works. 

Team members will sport blue shirts that identify them as such and have gone through training over the past few weeks. In addition to cleaning up they will also be able to serve as ambassadors to tourists in need of direction, or a homeless person seeking a change of scenery. 

Hilliard said some StreetPlus markets employ social workers – something that can be part of the future discussion in Manchester.

“Yes, we do have licensed social workers in some of our cities and that could be considered later here in Manchester. But the team members do get training in social services, quality of life issues and local ordinances and they’re equipped with general information to put to work if they need to,” Hillard says. 

Street team data overview/MEDO

The city’s Director of Economic Development Jodie Nazaka said the cost of the pilot program is $529,906, which includes all equipment needs (vehicles, rolling trash cans, pans and brooms, pressure washers, Billy Goat leaf removal tools, etc.), employee salaries, and benefits,” Nazaka said.

The pilot program will be funded by the Central Business Service District’s special tax assessment and allocations from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) with a goal of improving the quality of life in the CBSD while boosting the city’s attractiveness and economic prosperity, according to Nazaka.

If the program succeeds and there’s a desire to continue it, property owners within the 379.83 acres of the Central Business Services District (CBSD) in the downtown and Millyard areas will need to support a rate increase to cover the costs.  The additional tax rate is only paid by commercial property owners within the district, Nazaka said.

A kick-off of the street team is scheduled for 11 a.m. on July 2 at the Welcome Center on Elm Street, which will be the new home of the street team. The public is invited.

Below: Letter sent in March to the Board of Aldermen prior to approval of the pilot project.