C-U, UI ready for snow despite warm weather

Despite the mild winter weather this season, the University and surrounding cities are still taking steps to prepare for potential snowfalls.

While students in rented houses and apartments are sometimes unaware of their responsibilities, the Tenant Union reminds students to check their lease agreements.

“In most cases, it is the responsibility of the property owner to remove snow unless the lease says otherwise,” said Esther Patt, director of the Tenant Union.

She added that owners of apartment buildings with four or more apartments must remove snow from stairs, porches, driveways, walkways and parking lots.

Although the rules for Urbana and Champaign regarding snow and ice removal differ slightly, they essentially require that property owners remove snow as soon as possible.

“In Urbana, it is the property owner’s responsibility to remove all snow and ice within 24 hours of a declaration made by the public works director,” said Jason Arrasmith, environmental compliance officer for Urbana. “This will happen after the snow plows have come through, and residents who do not comply will be fined.”

Champaign shares a similar policy when it comes to snow removal. Property owners within the city’s university and downtown business districts are required to remove snow from public sidewalks within 48 hours and after two inches of snowfall, according to the city’s municipal code.

The University is also taking steps to manage snowfall this winter.

“It is a combined effort to take care of the snow,” said Andy Blacker, publicity-promotion specialist at Facilities and Services. “There is a plan in place between the cities (Urbana and Champaign) that is reviewed every year.”

University Facilities and Services is responsible for snow and ice removal for about 130 parking lots, 23 miles of roadway and 80 miles of sidewalks. High priority areas, such as food service docks, handicapped areas, the veterinary medicine complex and the McKinley Health Center are cleared from snow before other campus buildings.

In the past, there have been issues with not having enough salt to clear public areas of ice. According to Facilities and Services, that has not been a problem this year, and they do not expect any shortages due to the mildness of the winter.

However, there are other solutions to the problem if the supply were to run out. For example, the University often uses a brine mixture to pre-treat sidewalks and roadways to help melt the snow.

In addition, there are many factors that determine whether salt should be used, including the weight of the snow, the amount of wind and the temperature.