Frost Heave Headaches: Front Doors Blocked by Raised Pavement

Add this to the long list of headaches this brutal winter has created: a handful of businesses have been unable to properly use their own front doors, because frost heaves impeded the doors from swinging normally.

At Dakin Farm’s retail store in South Burlington, Vermont, the door has been getting stuck halfway open on a small frost heave. The freezing cold this winter has driven up the soil in the ground, and the pavers on the walkway to the maple syrup seller's door, preventing the door from opening fully.

"I'm hoping this is about as bad as it gets," Kim Kimball of Dakin Farm said of the frost heave outside the store. "We get lots of exercise walking back and forth, shutting the door behind people."

Kimball noted that most customers can still squeeze through the partially-opened door to go shopping. Customers using a stroller or a wheelchair may not be able to fit through, Kimball said. But she explained she could easily open a glass garage door-style entrance, just a few feet from the traditional entrance, to accommodate any customers who may not be able to use the door near the frost heave.

In nearby Winooski, the door to Bill Fastiggi’s Vermont Sailing Partners, a workshop that makes sails for boats, could only open a tiny crack Tuesday because of another frost heave. "I don't think any of us is small enough to get through that," Fastiggi joked.

And next door to Fastiggi’s business, the Vermont Brownie Company had another jammed door because of another frost heave. "We are ready for spring," sighed Cynthia O’Hara of the Vermont Brownie Company.

Normally, the brownie makers fill up big tubs with their packed boxes ready for shipping, and take them out the front door to go to the post office, O’Hara said. Since that door wouldn’t open wide enough to accommodate the tubs, they’ve had to use a rear entrance, winding their way down a narrow, icy path along the back of the building. They’ve been navigating past snow banks with their tubs, taking at least 100 extra steps, according to a count made by New England Cable News.

So when Chuck Padula showed up outside Vermont Sailing Partners and the Vermont Brownie Company Tuesday, the businesses were relieved. A construction contractor, Padula worked to remove the raised pavement so the companies could properly use their doors again.

"With the frost heaves, it's definitely going to get worse," Padula warned, describing how thawing and refreezing this month could mean many more frost heave headaches.

Dakin Farm, Vermont Sailing Partners, and the Vermont Brownie Company all have found ways around their minor problems, and all said they are determined to just keep trudging toward warmer weather ahead.

"It’s just part of business in Vermont," Kim Kimball beamed. "Hopefully, the warmer weather will come, the heave will go down, and our door can open normally." 

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