Quinnipiac facilities workers prepare for the snow

By Ross Lager

With another snow squall predicted for Wednesday evening, the Facilities Department at Quinnipiac University is gearing up to ensure the safety and accessibility of all three campuses for students and faculty.

Photo via Michaela Mendygral

Photo via Michaela Mendygral

Though meteorologists predicted another large storm earlier in the week, a wintry mix of snow, sleet and rain blanketed the Hamden area Sunday evening into Monday morning. This messy mix caused Quinnipiac University to delay classes until 10 a.m.

Regardless of the amount of snow, the Quinnipiac Facilities Department has to be prepared to meet any challenge.

Associate Vice President of Facilities Operations, Keith Woodward finds the key to storm preparation is equipment management.

“We talk, prepare and communicate well in advance of any storm, and trying to be prepared for anything that happens. As an example, a day after the storm we are checking our supplies, evaluating our equipment and (making) sure we are ready for the next one,” said Woodward.

The morning following a snowstorm, students and faculty find roads and lots “magically” clear and free of snow. Yet, it is the preparation of the Facilities Department that makes that magic happen. Last week, a sudden drop in temperature caused dangerous sub-zero conditions that forced the cancellation of all classes on Tuesday, Feb 12. The following morning, roads and lots were cleared so that students and faculty could proceed with business as usual.

Woodward understands the responsibility the Facilities Department has in keeping all Quinnipiac campuses safe for everyone, regardless of the weather.

“We are fortunate to have a group of dedicated employees and making sure they are prepared as best as they can be for when winter conditions arrive.

“We have our groundskeepers and mechanics working to make the campus safe for the community… (members of the facilities department) combined with some contractors are roughly 50-60 people,” Woodward said.

Woodward also said that one of Hamden’s top priorities is to clear the roads surrounding the university for the safety of commuting students and Hamden residents.

“The Town of Hamden does great work and has a dedicated staff in their Public Works area,” Woodward said. “I’m sure we help a little… but between the State of Connecticut trucks and the town, they do a great job.”

Even with the drastic changes in weather, Quinnipiac students seem to be pleased with the job the facilities department has done to clear up remnants of past storms. Senior psychology and sociology major Destiny DeJesus watched the clean-up efforts last Tuesday at the York Hill campus from the comfort of her dorm room and was impressed.

“My room’s window on York gives me a clear view of the Eastview parking lot and the path to the parking garage,” she said. “I saw custodians cleaning out there before, during and after the snow, so I think they did a good job.”

Quinnipiac needs to be ready to thoroughly clear the snow from roads, walkways and parking lots, and is a task the department is ready well in advance.

“The preparation is a year-round process, from equipment evaluation at the end of the season, to the time spent in August or September when we are purchasing magnesium chloride (salts that help with traction) to help with sidewalks and roads,” Woodward said.

The university keeps students, faculty and staff informed via email, phone calls and texts about delays, early closings and cancellations.

Last week, members of the Quinnipiac community received a notification the night before the impending storm, sparking excitement and surprise. Unlike the usual notifications that have typically gone out in the early morning hours. The day after the storm had passed through the Hamden area, students received an alert around the expected time (5:39 a.m.) announcing a delayed opening due to inclement conditions.

Junior marketing major Luke Ahearn getting to class in inclement weather causes problems for more than just those working with the Facilities Department.

“The weather has been rough for students, faculty and staff,” Ahearn said. “Other than the obvious inconveniences that come with weather like this, students’ commute and even the walks to class become dangerous.”

Ahearn said he thinks facilities personnel do the best they can working through the night to clear the snow.

“Facilities have done a wonderful job clearing snow,” he said. “Their job is under-appreciated as they are out in the cold in the middle of the night making sure the campus is as safe as it can be. They are always well prepared for inclement weather.”