Physical Plant Kudos

Tag Teamwork!

Joanne Dolan of South College wrote “a long overdue” note to thank John Strycharz and his crew for sprucing up the area outside the main entrance of the Dean’s office. “John is professional and courteous and his crew is a direct reflection of the high expectations he has for his work. I also enjoy working with Cathy Collins and Beau St. Jaques. Thanks again for your help!”


John Hayes from Building Maintenance received “candidate for sainthood” kudos from Patricia Cromack of Stockbridge Hall. John solved a “banging” problem in the heating system, which took multiple diagnostics and skill to get just right.

Terrace at Conte

Jo-Ann Bourguignon, Program Coordinator at the Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing, wrote to say how lovely the terrace looks. Landscape personnel, under the supervision of Gary Glazier, arrived to “trim, prune, mulch, edge, shape, sweep, and —  Voila! — the garden looks amazing!”

Construction Services

Gail Gray of Residential Academic Programs wrote to thank the Construction Services crew, under the direction of Robert Barnicle, for filling in the potholes on Fearing St. “Thanks for taking care of Southwest – all of our students, teachers, staff, and visitors. Job well done!”

Everywoman’s Center

Susan Mahler, Director of EWC Counseling Services, wrote to thank Steve Kosmider for his excellent work ethic in maintaining the EWC. “He takes pride in his work and is very easy to work with. Thank you.” In a separate email, she again praised Steve’s work. “He is a hard worker, thorough and attentive.”


Jo-Ann Bourguignon wrote to thank Tom Patterson and Kishor Chakal for the “extraordinary efforts” of the night custodians. They are “respectful and accommodating,” including making sure ad-hoc requests are handled. In addition to routine duties, they “plow through” clean up after special events, and ready the building for daily activities. “My director, Prof. James Watkins,” also thanks you!

Commencement Activities

Lorraine Robidoux of the College of Engineering wrote to thank Physical Plant staff for their “wonderful” job during Commencement activities.

Hasbrouck Hall

Bernie Daly takes a shortcut through Hasbrouck Hall most days. She wrote to affirm the work of Phenpa Dhondup, Lyudmila Shlegal, Tatiana Sherstyvkova, and Wayne Chabot in particular, for the “cleanliness and shine” of that building. “Everything is neat as a pin!”

Speedy Help!

Samantha Willis, a Campus Sustainability Intern, wrote to thank whoever helped her get back into an erroneously locked office.

Moving Crew – 3 Affirmations

Robert Cox, Head of Special Collections at the Library, wrote to thank Hollis Henderson and the Moving Crew for picking up the carillons, and to say that the Clarke School folks had singled him out, also, for doing an excellent job. Thanks also to Lamont Allen and Ron Culver, crew members!

Also, Patricia Cromack, from the College of Natural Sciences, wrote to thank these three. “Right after graduation, we had to move (lots)! What potentially could have been a circus went very smoothly and without a hitch. (This crew) is incredibly accommodating, responsive, and great guys to work with.”

And also, Larry Snyder wrote to thank the Moving Crew for Physical Plant second floor personnel’s move to Dickinson Hall. “Everyone was professional and courteous. The transition was much less difficult with their assistance and good humor.”

Grounds Leadership

Interim Chief of Police Patrick Archbald wrote to Pam Monn to thank the Grounds Department for loaning a 40-foot storage trailer to the UMPD. “Thank you for your generous donation.

Engineering Lab

Patricia Alex, Ellen Roberts, Nancy Torrey, Donald Fisher each wrote individually to thank the Landscape Crew for their work around E-Lab I. “It has been a joy to watch the campus come alive with new plantings.” “They did a fabulous job!” “Our surroundings have an impact on how you feel each day while working. Your hard work and impressive improvement to our area is great. It brings great joy and happiness. Your hard work does make a difference!” “It’s been a pleasure seeing the transformation!” Becky Walton, Don Loper, Una Reiser, Bill Allen, and Dave Pielock worked on this.

Fine Arts Center

Don Macleod, Patrick McNaney, and Andy Hartley received kudos from Nicole Young, Audience Service Manager at the FAC. “They did an amazing job,” in preparing the Concert Hall for Commencement activities. “They made our day much easier!”

Landscape Special Projects

Several years ago, the Landscape Department consisted of two zones. Each zone formed a ‘SWAT’ team made up of full time and seasonal employees. Each team had five to seven members depending on the weather and how much needed to be done in each area where they were working. The original scope of work involved cleaning up and pruning overgrown shrub beds around buildings, power washing entry ways, and general clean-up to enhance curb appeal and overall aesthetics. It worked well until attrition of our workforce became so great, the loss of our seasonal help from custodial and the dinning commons for the summer, forced us into disbanding the ‘SWAT’ teams so that we could keep up with mowing, trimming, trash and litter. Obviously, there were many areas that suffered, and we’ve only been able to do periodic ‘band aid’ clean up and fix up jobs. We, as a group were not blind to this fact, and worked with budget and workforce constraints as best we could for a period of 5 years.

Within the past year or so, our budget has taken a few odd turns and we have been able to take on more full time help with hopes of more on the way. Now that we’ve been able to fill mowing and plow routes, litter and trash routes, and have been striving to operate more efficiently on a day to day basis, it was decided to make an attempt at a new ‘SWAT’ team.

The new team is made up of four Skilled Laborers and a Working Foreman. Two of the team members, Don Loper and Una Reiser work the Tuesday – Saturday shift, while Bill Allan and Dave LeBlanc work Monday – Friday. The Working Foreman who is spearheading the new endeavor is Dave Pielock, who is working under the advice and supervision of Gary Glazier, manager for Landscape and Construction Services. This team of five with their manager came up with a short list of prospective buildings to begin with. The deciding factors for these buildings are determined by how long it’s been since any work has been done, and the fact that eight of the newer buildings (soon to be ten) are considered “high profile” areas that have separate work orders where we have to track time and material.

Our scope of work hasn’t changed much from the days of the old ‘SWAT’ teams, but there are, and have been a few changes. First is the name. We decided to call ourselves “Landscape Special Projects” or “LSP”. Aside from the new name, we will also do what we can to make further maintenance less labor intensive as possible. Where time permits we are changing or removing small areas, shrub beds, islands, and blighted areas where nothing grows. Thompson Low Rise, as an example, will eventually have pavers and belgian block all around the outside of the building under the overhang that keeps everything but weeds, from growing.

Studio Arts is at this time finished with stage 1, but on our next tour through, a few more beds will be eliminated, plant material will be removed and new plants will be put in their place. The new plant material will be much better suited to a high traffic area and easier to maintain.

Gunness, Marsten, and Engineering Lab I, have just been gone through, with over grown beds being worked on, and with plants and shrubs being removed or transplanted.

The next task at hand is the entire Morrill Science complex of buildings. We are starting on the east side loading dock areas and will be working around the buildings, along with Wilder Hall, Clark Hall, and Shade Tree Lab. This will put us into early/mid June.

Buildings of concern for the rest of the summer will be Blaidsdale House/Photo Lab, Totman/Furcolo, Whitmore/Fine Arts, and Goodell/South Collage.

I hesitate to put any of these areas on a concrete schedule due to the fact that at any given day we may get pulled to go to Great Barrington, Mt Lincoln, concert clean-up after a Mullins event, clean-up after sports events, and of course the odd major storms that hit New England periodically throughout the summer months.

Obviously, some buildings need more attention than others. Our goal when starting a new building is to decide how much work needs to be done, how much work can be done on our first run through, while breaking the scope of work into three phases for each building, and finally by the third phase, cut down the amount of time needed to keep each building area maintained sustainably, and still be aesthetically appealing to the building’s occupants and the rest of the campus community.

Physical Plant Moves Administration Area to Dickinson

Effective May 22, 2012, the Administrative offices of the Physical Plant Division will reside in “Dickinson” formerly UMPD.  This move (estimated 9 to 12 months) includes, the Executive Office of Patrick Daly, and the Administrative Offices for the Associate and Assistant Directors of Administrative Services, Grounds Management, Utilities/Engineering and Building Maintenance.

The Service Desk will also be relocated to the bottom floor of Dickinson. University keys can be picked up and dropped off at the Service Desk located in Dickinson on the bottom floor, west side entrance.

Physical Plant Annual Steam Shut Down

This year’s Physical Plant Annual Steam Shut Down has been scheduled. The dates for this Steam Shut Down are from May 13, 2012 to June 3, 2012.

The areas scheduled for repair and maintenance work during this year’s Steam Shut Down is all the Dormitories and Dining Commons in the Southwest Residential Area. Also Herter Hall, Whitmore, Isenberg, School of Management, Fine Arts and Mahar Auditorium will be affected.

The types of services that will be interrupted in these areas are steam, domestic hot water, and air conditioning. Individual building shut down notifications for Steam Shut Down 2012 have been sent out by the Physical Plant.

Please contact Tom Fydenkevez at phone number 545-3231 if you have any questions or comments about this evolution.

Intersession Work


LGRC low rise library – 300 pieces of furniture and all the carpets (needed cleaning again due to construction)

Gunness student center – all furniture cleaned

ISB – auditorium seating cleaned as well as all common space furniture

Child care buildings – all carpets cleaned (per Maryanne Gallaghers request)

Boyden – 300 pieces of furniture in various class/computer rooms

ISOM/Alfond – all common area furniture completed

Goodell – honors area and any other common area furniture completed

Dubois library – all furniture on main, 1, 2, 3, and 5

Polymer – both auditoriums seating was all completed

Computer Science – all classroom chairs and common area furniture completed, about 250 pieces

FAC – some carpeting in concert hall perimeter

E lab II – all auditorium seating


All furniture listed is for upholstery cleaning

Physical Plant Landscape and Construction Services Supports Sustainability Efforts

Physical Plant Construction Services installed six (6) BigBelly Solar Trash Compactors along the pedestrian corridor between Whitmore and DuBois Library.  BigBelly Solar Compactors are an innovative solar-powered waste collection system.  The BigBelly Trash Compactor has five times the capacity as ordinary trash can.  The BigBelly CLEAN Management Console, gives Physical Plant Landscape Services personnel real-time data, by e-mail, on the status of each compactor aiding our sustainability efforts in 70-80+% reductions in collection trips and associated operating costs, fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions are consistently achievable. Reduced collections yield deep cost efficiencies by freeing up valuable worker time, allowing managers to re-deploy staff to other important tasks, and reduce the costs and pollution of unnecessary vehicle trips.   As waste collects inside a BigBelly solar compactor (or single-stream recycling inside a BigBelly compacting recycler), an internal “eye” senses when the bin is filling and communicates that information back to the Command Center, generating a command to trigger a compaction cycle.  Our BigBelly Trash components have an enormous appetite for trash and recycling – keep feeding them!  We have plans to install six (6) Big Belly Compactors in DuBois Library.


GreenhouseWe have a new addition to the Landscape Management Department. It is a 40’x25’ greenhouse that was purchased last year that is near completion. We purchased the greenhouse for a few reasons; one is that every year we spend thousands of dollars on annuals that we have grown by a local grower to put throughout the campus beds and planters. My goal is to drastically reduce the amount of money we spend purchasing when we can grow our own annuals from seed. We also have started an internship program with the Stockbridge School of Agriculture last year where students come to work for us and learn about their major. This year we have four Horticulture freshmen joining our team, the greenhouse will allow the students to “learn by doing” a daily part of their training will be growing, fertilizing, watering and caring for the plants. After the annuals have reached majority and the weather is right the students will create and design beds throughout the campus where we normally do not have them. Their job will also be to care for these flower beds through -out the summer months. We will also use the greenhouse for a staging area for commencement. The Landscape department does the purchasing and the set up for the graduate commencement at the Mullins Center and with graduation being so early (May 11th) it is difficult to find plant material that is in bloom, with the greenhouse we can adjust the growing environment and try to push the plant material along for a better bloom.

The greenhouse installation was done completely in house my foreman Ray LaClaire headed up the installation with help from other staff members Jim Recore, Chris Drake, John Stosz,  The Stockbridge fraternity ATG also donated some of their time to help along with the installation. Construction Services, Electrical and Water Utilities installed all the lines for the project and will do all final hook ups for gas, power and water. It is nice to see everyone come together for a great cause. It truly is a win win for everyone, The University will be saving money, the students are getting hands on experience for their future, and the campus will have annual color through-out the season.

People have asked me how far you would like to see this go. I would like to see the university growing all there season color for the campus in the future  I would like to see the internship program grow to a whole new level where we can prepare our students for their careers, and possibly come back to work here at the University.