Late snow cuts maintenance costs

GVL / Eric Coulter
Marc Westrate of Facilities Services shovels Kirkhof Sunday

Eric Coulter

GVL / Eric Coulter Marc Westrate of Facilities Services shovels Kirkhof Sunday

Samantha Belcher

Winter got a late start this year at Grand Valley State University, and that lack of early snowfall has saved the university money on snow and ice maintenance, said Ken Stanton, GVSU grounds supervisor

“No two years are the same,” Stanton said. “Each winter presents different challenges.”

Stanton said GVSU spends about $150,000 to $200,000 on winter maintenance each year, adding that maintenance workers have not had to plow as much snow this year but have dealt mostly with ice.

“We know what the expectations are to keep a safe environment,” said Edward Simon, assistant grounds supervisor. “Our goal is to make sure our work is complete and thorough.”

Stanton said GVSU uses an average of 200 to 250 tons of salt and sand each year. Last winter, about 200 tons were used to combat ice on roads and sidewalks. This year, about 100 tons have been used so far. Stanton said maintenance also uses a liquid spray that prevents snow from accumulating and re-freezing on the sidewalks.

At this time last year, GVSU maintenance used about 54,000 gallons of the liquid, but this year only 27,000 gallons have been used. About 90,000 gallons were used for the whole season last year.

“It’s a matter of keeping up and adjusting to what Mother Nature gives us,” Simon said.

GVSU also has heated sidewalks at the entry ways of the Kirkhof Center, Padnos Hall of Science, the Student Services building, Henry Hall and Mackinac Hall.

Stanton said a network of tubing under the sidewalk heats the entryways.

Eighteen maintenance workers and student employees operate equipment after a winter storm.

“The goal is to keep campus open and safe for pedestrians and vehicles,” Stanton said.

The GVSU mens’ and womens’ rowing teams also help with snow maintenance from December to February through the Rent-A-Rower program. The teams work seven days a week from 5 to 7:30 a.m. shoveling, salting and using maintenance vehicles to raise money for their club dues.

“I think it’s more rewarding when you’re giving back to your community, helping your school, and supporting yourself,” said Jordan Crandell, coordinator for the Rent-a-Rower program.

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