Groundskeepers keep Kent’s 22 miles of sidewalks snow-free

Justin Sheil

The Kent State groundskeepers will be busy early Wednesday, as there is a prediction for six to 10 inches of snow.

With 10 trucks plowing and 20 groundskeepers shoveling, the members of the grounds crew will start working as early as 2 a.m. to clear the campus’s 22 miles of sidewalk. They are also responsible for clearing building entrances and stairs, along with campus streets.

However, Grounds Manager Heather White said it isn’t all bad.

 “There is something inherently fun about dealing with ten inches of snow,” White said. “This is just another challenge, and we’re up to the task.”

To prepare for the snowstorm, the grounds crew pre-treats roadways and major sidewalks with brine — a salt and water mix — so snow will not adhere to these surfaces. Additional preparations include making sure all of the equipment works, White said.

The brine alone will not make the snow disappear, however. The groundskeepers will work 12 to 16-hour shifts in the wintry conditions. With such long hours spent outdoors, it’s important for them to stay warm so they can get the snow off the walkways.

“The more you move, the better off you are,” groundskeeper Jill Morgan said about staying warm during long hours of snow removal.

Because so much snow is predicted for Wednesday, the grounds crew will need to take extra effort in clearing sidewalks, as plowing the roadways will inevitably kick up additional snow to the sidewalks, White said.

White also said the front of campus is particularly difficult to clear since it does not receive much sunlight, and the many stairs require workers to remove the snow by hand using shovels.

Parking services maintains the parking lots, while the city is responsible for Main, Lincoln and Summit Streets. Contractors plowing the parking lots will often plow to the end of the lot but end up blocking a sidewalk or handicap ramp, which then requires extra work to remove that snow, White said.

Unclear sidewalks seem to frustrate students.

“They never plow the sidewalks,” senior communication studies major Rachael DiPietro said. “I was walking in front of Rockwell the other day and slipped.”

White is aware of the many frustrations among students because of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

“I did like snow removal before social media,” White said.

A representative from the university monitors online media to alert the grounds crew of what particular areas are especially hard to navigate. However, if there is an unclear area, White advises students to call Universities Facilities Management at 330- 672-2345.

Contact Justin Sheil at [email protected].