Winter can be unpredictable, but dealing with snow is one thing Utica residents can count on.
In order to stay on top of snow removal, Utica College contracts with Atalian Global Services for some maintenance, grounds and custodial services. While the college puts countless hours into winter snow and ice removal, some students say it is not enough.
Daniel Bollana, executive director of facilities planning and operating, said there is a limited staff of seven grounds crew workers who perform around the clock snow removal on campus roads and sidewalks.
The grounds supervisor has a snow control plan that he executes at different times of the day. However, when numerous vehicles and pedestrians are on campus it becomes difficult and sometimes dangerous to run heavy equipment.
“If there is a severe storm, [the grounds supervisor] will augment his staff with other maintenance staff to operate equipment in an effort to keep with the snowfall,” Bollana said. “Once vehicles begin filling parking lots, they have a difficult time finding places to push snow, and we become concerned about causing damage to vehicles.”
Bollana pointed out personnel are out cleaning surfaces around the clock when the snow is falling.
“After the snowfall, or at night, personnel are moving snow to eliminate areas obstructing traffic, reducing blind spots or expanding waste areas to allow future snow stockpiling,” Bollana said. “We will also pre-treat surfaces in anticipation of a snow or ice event.”
The dome is also a critical area to maintain during heavy snowfall.
“With heavy snowfall, we have to dedicate a person full time to keep snow from piling up against the fabric and clearing the air intakes on the inflation units,” Bollana said.
Aside from the dome, the turf field at the Gaetano Stadium is another area that requires plowing. The athletics department requests the turf to be cleared for spring sports to be able to practice and hold competitions.
Some students, like Kristen Pryzblo, have mixed opinions about UC’s snow removal policies.
Pryzblo said there is no communication for people to move their vehicles when plowing begins.
“They do a single swipe and leave our cars as is,” Pryzblo said.
Pryzblo said she has fallen a few times in parking lots and on sidewalks. She said a lack of sanding and salting has prevented her from going to the library to study for fear that she would fall.
She also believes that the commuter students always have a clear parking lot.
“For residential students, a lot of us move our cars often to get food on campus, to go to work or shop at Walmart,” Pryzblo said. “It is so difficult to do that when you have to fight for a good parking spot that isn’t bombarded with snow.”
Pryzblo said last year the college asked residential students to move their vehicles to the commuter parking lot so the residential lots could be plowed. She said that was a better system than the one currently in place.
“There have been times where I get my car stuck because of the lack of plowing that they do for the residential parking lots,” Pryzblo said. “I actually had to go out and get better snow tires because I got stuck getting into and out of my parking spot last semester while trying to go to from work.”
Daniela Montalvan also believes plowing could be improved.
“We shouldn’t have to shovel ourselves in and out of spots especially since it gets so cold; there’s built up ice and snow from weeks ago,” Montalvan said. “Although I drive an SUV, I still find it hard to get in and out of spots.”
Montalvan said a lack of snow removal makes narrow campus roadways even narrower.
“There’s huge potholes that are hard to avoid while other cars are also on the road,” Montalvan said. “The potholes damage the vehicle with or without snow.”