Kent groundskeepers struggle keeping up with winter storms


Grace Hare

R1 Rockwell Parking Lot at Kent State covered in mounds of snow on Feb. 2, 2022.

Grace Hare Reporter

With only 21 groundskeepers and more than 900 acres of main campus grounds to maintain, the Kent State staff is finding it hard to stay ahead of the recent winter storms. 

Winter Storm Landon brought about 18 inches of snowfall to Kent’s main campus, causing classes to be canceled on Feb. 3 and 4 due to severe weather.

“We are thankful to the campus community for their patience and support as we have responded to two significant storms just a few weeks apart,” said Eric Mansfield, assistant vice president of university communications and marketing. “No weather event is ever the same, our plan is never perfect, but our goal is to put the students at the university first and work with the resources that we have available to us.”

Kent State groundskeeping provides a 24/7 service for students and staff members. This includes maintaining 29 miles of sidewalks and hundreds of wheelchair ramps, shoveling and salting thousands of steps and plowing 10 miles of road lanes. 

The main campus groundskeeping department is comprises into seven equipment operators which includes plow drivers, and 21 staff members for shoveling and salting sidewalks, staircases and wheelchair ramps.

Kent State must follow federal mandates that require the groundskeeping crew to take eight-hour breaks after being behind the wheel of a plow truck for 14 hours or more at a time.

These federal mandates paired with short-staffing problems are causing many snow and ice issues for the Kent community.

However, the groundskeeping crew can add additional resources and equipment based on the severity and duration of a weather event, said Mansfield. 

Main campus has been experiencing troubles with snow displacement such as sidewalks and crosswalks being covered in snow by plow drivers. Student and staff parking spots have also been covered in snow, and some sidewalks and steps are being reported by students that they are not being properly shoveled and iced.

“As a commuter student I rely on Kent State parking heavily to get to my classes, and oftentimes many of the parking spots that were available are not because the snowplows cover them with snow,” said Emily Haldi, a junior construction management major.

Kent State works with Residence Services to provide shovels and other aids to help dig out student vehicles, Mansfield said. Parking Services team members are also available to aid in shoveling out student and staff parked cars on campus.

Students and staff members can report any specific issues or problems relating to snow displacement or groundskeeping to Kent State University Facilities Management Services, Mansfield said.

Grace Hare is a Reporter. Contact her at [email protected].