Waking up to see most sidewalks and entryways on campus clear from the many inches of wintry bliss is a blessing often unnoticed.
“I understand some people get frustrated when they come outside and see some sidewalks aren’t cleared yet,” said Chris Brindley, the Building and Grounds Superintendent. “However, it’s hard when it snows during the day and then the snow is mashed down to hard crust. Once it gets to that point, we’ll have to use a lot of salt.”
Brindley said the safety of staff and students is grounds services’ main priority. They also try to use the least amount of salt possible due to environmental and financial reasons.
“I think the amount of salt they use is necessary due to a possible lack of shoveling,” said senior Kelsey Nasset.
Brindley said last year the university used 135 tons of salt to maintain a safe campus.
“We just want to let everyone know what we do and what our limitations are,” Brindley said. “I also want to emphasize that it’s a team effort, and we draw people from all over campus to help.”
Brindley said shoveling and plowing 12 miles of sidewalk and 28 acres of parking lots can be daunting with only four permanent staff members. The staff has student workers who contribute in a large way. There are currently 55 “curb cuts” across campus maintained solely by students.
“We work with the Disability Services and students who need special assistance so that when they wake up, they have a clear walking path to class,” Brindley said. “We will cater to the needs of those in wheelchairs or crutches. They just need to let us know, and we’ll try to work around their schedules.”
Four people come in at 1 or 2 a.m. and then work until they have to leave for their day jobs. This means it is difficult to maintain clear sidewalks and parking lots if it does not start snowing until midday.
“The sidewalks can get pretty icy walking to class,” said junior Nicole Maslakow. “Maybe finding environmentally-friendly alternatives to salt would help.”
Brindley encourages students and faculty to alert grounds services immediately if an area appears hazardous.
“Let us know if snow has drifted into a specific area or if you notice a curb cut has been plowed back in,” Brindley said. “Keep the communication chains intact and if you see an issue, then request attention.”