Crews out of places to put snow

Snow removal team up early to clear parking lots, streets, sidewalks on campus.

Grounds Supervisor Ed Koble stands by a snow removal machine Monday at facilities management. Photo by Chester Beltowski/The Dakota Student.

With nearly 127 acres of parking lots and 27 miles of sidewalks to clear, the UND snow removal staff is running out of areas to pile an overwhelming amount of snow.

In the past, crews have put piles in the parking lots, according to Director of Facilities Management Larry Zitzow.

“We still do leave some snow in the parking lots to a point, which takes parking spaces away,”  Zitzow said. “As the campus and population continues to grow though, there is becoming more need for parking and more need to haul it away.”

As UND continues to expand, space to dump the snow decreases.

“The school of medicine is going to gobble up all our snow pile area,” Zitzow said. “We have had to do other things this year. We have had to use the snowplow more than we have ever used it — piled it high and make some pretty big piles.”

Much of the removed snow is sitting behind the practice football field.

The staff is working to find new locations to put snow and hopes to have some new areas in the future. Despite the recent struggles the staff feels good about where they are now.

Equipment Operator Anderson Byron said before gaining new equipment 10 years ago it took twice as long to complete what they can now complete in a matter of hours.

“We have 10 times the equipment as what we did back then,” Byron said. “We would mainly do the campus the day of snow and then move into housing the following day.”

Along with the 18 pieces of equipment, Byron said just having experienced workers is a plus, especially around expensive state property.

“There are certain directions you can go without catching something,” he said. “If you turn the other direction, you will catch something and break it, and you do learn that over time.”

Grounds Supervisor Ed Koble says they hired just three workers this year as the remaining staff has been around for a while. Having an older staff takes pressure off Koble.

“They just know what they have to do,” he said. “I do not have to tell them what to do. You get fast if you do the same route day after day. Everyone knows where the curb is and where the command holes are.”

Koble and many of his crew members have been together for more than 15 years. They try to have their equipment ready in mid-autumn.

“We’ve had snow that early, but it usually melts right away so we do not move it,” Koble said. “But we are definitely ready by Oct. 15. We have the equipment lined up and the plows fixed.”

During a normal snowfall, a crew of 16 workers starts sweeping on campus by 4 a.m. before focusing on residence hall areas by 8:30 a.m. For larger snowfalls, they bring out bigger machines first and then sweep.

“I have six guys out there sweeping every day,” he said. “It’s tough trying to work around students. If it’s been snowing all day long, you get foot droppings you have to chop down and then try to get the ice off.”

The snow crew also is responsible for making deliveries between from Central Receiving and campus buildings.

“Departments are drawing materials and supplies constantly from places in order to do what they need to do,” Zitzow said. “The staff tries to get those materials and have them delivered to the departments.”

In the past they usually have had two trucks making deliveries. However, with the push of snow the past few months, Koble said they are trying to use three trucks to catch back up.

Mathew McKay is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].