Junior Speaks: Facilities earns blizzard of thanks

headshot_WEBThe end of January has been known to bring blizzards. But it is hard to prepare for these unpredictable storms. The Rider Facilities Team prepared well and managed to keep campus clear and safe during the recent storm, and as a student who was stuck on campus for the weekend, I greatly appreciate them and their hard work.

I had to move in on Friday to avoid travel complications during the snowstorm. Saturday around dinnertime, I decided to venture into the storm for dinner at Daly’s. To my surprise, the sidewalks were pretty clear, even though it was still snowing hard. Granted, the sidewalks were still covered in snow, but it was only about an inch. Nothing compared to the two feet of snow that built up next to the walkways.

Sunday morning, the walkways were clear.

To prepare for this storm, the facilities team began a couple of days in advance, but since effects of storms like these are unforeseeable, no real action could be taken until the storm hit. According to Michael Reca, the associate vice president of Facilities and Auxiliary Services, over 25 staff members on the Lawrenceville campus stayed for 41 hours straight, from midnight Friday to 5 p.m. Sunday evening. They had to sleep in short shifts either in the facilities office or in available rooms on campus. They operated “nine plow trucks of various sizes and five smaller machines for the sidewalks and other areas” along with 14 pieces of snow-removal equipment.

“At any given point during the storm, 10 pieces of equipment were in operation,” Reca said. “In addition, I want to recognize the efforts of our contracted custodial services from Cushman and Wakefield who assisted by hand-shoveling the steps and walkways where the machines could not get.”

On the Princeton campus, snow removal services are contracted out, but those individuals also rotated staff during the storm. Brian’s Tree Services “did a great job with the snow removal efforts,” according to Reca. Also, Rider “Facilities Managers Larry Toth (Lawrenceville) and Edgar Ress (Westminster) stayed the entire time with their staff. In addition, Assistant Director of Facilities Scott Wustefeld also stayed through the entire storm monitoring building systems.”

In addition to the snow removal team, Rider also had many Facilities team mechanics on both campuses ensuring the heating and electrical systems were functioning properly during the storm.

“This is a truly dedicated group of people who worked together with Public Safety and members of the Aramark team to keep the campus safe and functioning,” Reca said. “They all deserve to be commended.”

I agree with Reca. I noticed campus was well kept during the storm, so I reached out to find out what exactly happened during the storm to better understand how hard the Facilities team and others have worked to keep campus clear and safe. Being a student who had to stay during the weekend, I wanted to say thank you to the team, on behalf of Rider students, for working long hours to keep us safe and not buried under snow.

One concern I heard was about how much money was spent on the snow removal. With Rider being in debt and having other issues on campus, such as the gas pipe in the academic quad, some people were worried about the snow causing more money problems.  Rider has a snow removal budget “based on historical data regarding weather events,” according to Reca. This budget plans for an “annual snowfall of about 35 inches.” For this storm, Reca says we stayed “within the budgeted amount.”

Regardless, money had to be spent to ensure campus safety. If they had to go over budget, then that is what they would have to do. Thankfully they did not overspend. Snowstorms such as these are never consistent or predictable. The Facilities team did a wonderful job with snow removal, and once again, I thank them for it.

 

—Rena Carman

Junior communication studies major

 

Printed in the 02/03/16 issue.

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