New Name is Gateway Boulevard
January 6, 2017
by Barbara O’Brien
The contention between the Town of Windham and the New Hampshire Department of Safety continues in regard to naming the short stretch of roadway located behind McDonald’s and Klemm’s Market, off of Range Road.
Several weeks ago, selectmen voted to name the stretch “Gateway Road,” notifying the NH Department of Safety of the decision. In response, officials from the state said they didn’t want Gateway Road used, because it sounded too much like Galway Road and might cause confusion in the event of an emergency call to 9-1-1.
After receiving the letter from the state, selectmen decided it was not the department of safety’s prerogative to dictate what the town names its road and, therefore, they were staying with Gateway Road.
A few days later, another letter arrived from the department of safety in which “a recommendation” was made that Gateway Road be changed to either Gateway Street or Gateway Avenue. Selectmen were not pleased with the directive from state officials. Selectmen’s Chairman Joel Desilets said he viewed the state’s letter as “an ultimatum,” rather than a recommendation. The state doesn’t have the authority to order the town to make the change, Desilets said. He also compared the direction from the state as being “illegal extortion.” Desilets said he felt as if the selectmen were being threatened and found the situation egregious.
“If we don’t name it, do we have to accept it,” Selectman Roger Hohenberger asked. Previously, this section of road was state-owned and maintained. Once it is town-owned, all maintenance must be done by the town. “I don’t want it,” Hohenberger insisted. Hohenberger also said he didn’t want to see taxpayer money used to fight the state in naming the road.
Selectman Jennifer Simmons said she would be in favor of changing the name to Gateway Street. Vice-Chairman Ross McLeod said he didn’t feel selectmen needed to do anything about altering the name from Gateway Road. McLeod then said, “Why not go big?” “Let’s name it Gateway Boulevard!” Selectmen agreed with McLeod’s suggestion by a vote of 3 to 1 to 0. Voting in favor of making the road a boulevard were Joel Desilets, Ross McLeod and Bruce Breton. Voting in opposition was Jennifer Simmons. Casting no vote was Roger Hohenberger.
The question that remains is whether the street sign will read Gateway Boulevard or abbreviated to Gateway Blvd. or if the state will even accept the newest idea.