Letters to the Chronicle
Grounds staff gearing up for winter's worst
Winter is here again (although it's a little earlier than usual)!
Snow removal is one of Grounds Management's major responsibilities
during the winter. Our employees work long hours in harsh conditions
to ensure the safety of the campus community. Physical Plant Grounds
Management and Academic Custodial employees -- who do the lion's
share of snow plowing and shoveling -- and other Physical Plant
workers, Housing Services employees, and many others, all respond
quickly and efficiently to clean the campus of snow and ice.
They clear miles of roadways and sidewalks, and shovel and sand
thousands of steps. They work nights and 16-hour shifts; many
of our employees don't see their families for days during serious
We clear snow from most walkways on campus, but some are what
we term "three-season walkways" -- stone, gravel, or
narrow walks provided to the campus community for their convenience
during the spring, summer, and fall. These walkways aren't cleared
in the winter.
We will continue to experiment with an innovative, environmentally
safe de-icing agent called Ice Ban Magic (now called Ice B'Gone).
The main ingredient in Ice B'Gone is Ice Ban, a byproduct of distilling
plants in the Midwest, which manufacture beer, other alcoholic
beverages, and ethanol. It consists mainly of carbohydrates, protein,
fat, and sugar, and is also used as a cattle feed substitute that
looks and smells like molasses. Ice B'Gone, the product UMass
Amherst is using, is a mixture of Ice Ban and magnesium chloride.
Snow removal is a significant and many times a thankless responsibility.
It's easy to second-guess us; we're not perfect. But it's a complex
task I believe we handle with the utmost professionalism and responsibility.
Plowing miles of sidewalks and roadways is a challenging task.
With snow flying, it's often difficult for our plow operators
to see pedestrians. So for your own safety, please keep a safe
distance from plows to allow our staff plenty of room to clear
snow and ice.
Snow removal will take a little longer this year due to staff
cutbacks, so please be patient. The next time you step out in
to the harsh winter of New England -- and after all, we do live
in New England -- remember we are doing all we can to ensure your
Thank you for your understanding and patience again this winter.
acting assistant director,