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Record snowfall increases removal costs, facilities damage

Staff worked overtime during blizzards to clear snow from walkways, mechanical units

Along with 80 inches of snow and two campus-wide closings, record-breaking snowfall this year also resulted in unprecedented costs to the University.

The University spent $625,000 on snow removal alone this year, up from $435,000 last year and a marked increase from the $275,000 average spent annually over the past seven years, said Stephen Maiorisi, vice president of Facilities Management.

In addition to basic snow removal costs, another $35,000 was spent on “proactive” measures to prevent damage caused by snow, Maiorisi said. Typical snow damage includes water damage and flooding caused by roof leaks or open windows.

The cost for damage to University structures is projected to total approximately $150,000, though that figure does not account for major damages to University buildings such as the Pizzitola Center and Manning Chapel, Maiorisi said.

In February, a section of the roof of the Pizzitola Center collapsed. More recently, the ceiling of Manning Chapel detached from the roof, likely due to pressure from snow on top of the building. The cost associated with these two incidents is not yet known and will add to the estimated $150,000 of routine damages, Maiorisi said.

“We track snow removal costs every year, and this year was the highest it’s been since I’ve been here,” Maiorisi said. The majority of these costs stem from “people’s time — and a large part of that is overtime,” he added.

Staffing costs constituted the lion’s share of snow removal expenditures, coming in at $440,000, up from $163,000 spent in recent years, Maiorisi said. University closings, which require more overtime pay, explain the jump in staffing costs, he added.

Most of the $35,000 put toward preemptive steps to shield buildings from damage financed removal of snow from roofs.

“In typical years, we don’t do much of that at all,” Maiorisi said, adding that the measure is particularly costly. “Hopefully (it) had a huge payoff for us.”

Students expressed satisfaction with Facilities Management’s efforts to mitigate inconvenience caused by the snow.

John MacDonald ’17.5 said he was “really impressed” with the University’s handling of snow removal.

“Given how intense the winter was this year, I felt like the pathways were surprisingly well cleared and walkable,” MacDonald said.

Sarah Cronin ’18 commended Facilities Management workers, who “worked hard through every storm to make the campus safe.”

In combatting snowstorms, Facilities Management  workers’ duties include more than “just shoveling stairs and plowing sidewalks, walkways and paths,” Maiorisi said. For example, snow-clearing operations often deal with mechanical units on roofs.

“Because filters get clogged up by the snow, we actually have people 24/7 during blizzards simply shoveling out mechanical units that are on roofs,” he said.

This allows the units, particularly in lab buildings, to continue functioning, which keeps the air in the building operational, he added.

During blizzards, some workers must stay on campus overnight to respond to emergencies such as power outages, he said. “Fortunately, in these storms, we didn’t lose power, which is a great concern for blizzards.”

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