By Greta Petry (February
Bubble Is Back in Business
The University at Albany's air structure, or "Bubble," did not burst in the Feb. 14 snowstorm.
The Bubble, a year-round inflatable athletic
facility used for tennis, track, baseball and
football practice, was deflated by the
Facilities Operations Department near the end of
the storm so that it would not tear under
mountains of snow.
The Bubble, made from "space-age fabric," is also used by UAlbany's intramural sports teams and the community. While this was not the first time UAlbany's Bubble has been deflated due to snow, the Valentine's Day storm generated the heaviest snowfall in a 24-hour period in several years. A similar, but larger, bubble in Latham (Afrim's Sports), did indeed collapse and tear under the heavy snowfall.
Once deflated, clearing snow off the UAlbany Bubble was a painstakingly slow hands-on shoveling process, as crews had to take care not to rip the fabric. Crews removed sections of accumulated snow more than seven feet high.
"On Feb. 21 starting at 8 a.m., we had 23 people in the morning and 52 people in the afternoon working to clear the snow from the deflated Bubble," said John Giarrusso, associate vice president, University Facilities Operations in the Division of Finance and Business. "We waited until Feb. 21 to start shoveling it off, as we had higher priority snow clearing to do in various lots and walkways, and also had to first clear the turf field for the lacrosse team. Ninety percent of the snow was removed on Wednesday. The remaining isolated spots were cleared on Thursday."
While shoveling, campus crews found some rips and cabling in need of minor repair and made the corrections. The Farley Group of Ontario, Canada, was called in to inspect the facility prior to getting it reinflated. The Bubble was reinflated on Thursday evening and is now back in business.
If your arms, shoulders, and back were sore
from shoveling out your sidewalks and driveway
at home, consider this: snow removal crews
shoveled off the Bubble after they had already
cleared the roadways and parking lots all over
the UAlbany campuses.
Who shovels UAlbany's snow? The Grounds Department clears the roads and lots and major walkways; the Custodial Department handles building entrances; and the Mechanical Repair Shop stays on around the clock to take care of broken-down plows and equipment.
"The Grounds crew started snow clearing at midnight on Wednesday, Feb. 14, and about 34 Grounds personnel and four Mechanical Repair personnel worked double and triple shifts through the day on Friday. They did a terrific job," Giarrusso said.