Peak Center flood prevention work, new parking estimated to cost almost $4 million

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 849 views 

A drainage project discussed in the fall to control flooding at Fort Smith Public Schools Peak Innovation Center has doubled and doesn’t address a second flooding problem that occurred last month.

District officials said a storm on March 23 caused flooding, which they discovered at approximately 8:30 a.m. March 24, at which time they immediately solicited help from a professional water mediation company.

There was an earlier flooding issue at the center, which opened March 28, 2022, after numerous delays. Record rainfall in Fort Smith caused flash flooding in the city June 7, June 8 and June 10 of last year. That incident caused flooding in the east parking lot of the facility. Water came into the Peak Innovation Center during the rainfall June 7 from two sources, according to FSPS reports.

A drainage project that includes an additional parking lot, approved by the school board in 2022, is expected to eliminate future drainage problems by raising the lower parking lot on the property and excavating the east field for a detention pond. At the time the board approved the project, it was estimated the cost of the drainage work would be about $1.1 million. Adding an additional parking lot was expected to cost $300,000.

At the school board’s regular meeting Monday (April 24), Joseph Velasquez, FSPS construction project manager, told the board the scope of work and the price tag had grown. The approved project was to raise the lower parking lot and excavate the east field for a detention pond. The project, as presented Monday night, adds more flood control and would increase parking to 460 from 166. It will be divided into three phases. Phase 1 includes the northeast drainage project and parking. It would add 155 parking spaces (124 new and 31 resurfaced), which Velasquez says was needed now that the community room has opened for public use. It also would create a detention pond, reroute and capture water under the new parking, add a  new drive and trickle channel to the north. Cost of Phase 1 is estimated at $2.3 million.

Phase 2 would create 87 more parking spaces, a detention pond required by the city because of the additional hard space parking and a new drive to west parking. Cost is estimated at $858,426. Phase 3 would create 80 parking spaces, rework existing drive and rework west end to improve traffic flow. It has an estimated cost of $733,692. The total cost for all three phases is $3.928 million.

Velasquez said part of the increased cost was an increased scope of work to add more parking. Some is due to increased costs of materials and work needed to control flooding.

Because even the cost of Phase 1, which is the basic work the board approved in the fall, is so much more than what was approved, the board voted to table approval of any phase of the project until the May school board meeting. At that time, the board hopes to have a final report from HSA Engineering Consulting of Fort Smith, who the district hired to investigate what caused the flooding in March. The firm has a contract not to exceed $3,500 for the work.

So far, it has recommended the district check and ensure the control joints are sealed; hydro-jet the underground drainage; run a camera through the drainage lines to ensure structural integrity is intact; and excavate areas to ensure roof drainage is intact and functional. Shawn Shaffer, FSPS executive director of facility operations, said the district has completed those measures.

“Additionally, the engineer recommended installing a new overflow drain from the existing storm box. We are in the process of implementing this recommendation,” he said.

Velasquez said the drainage project addressed Monday night does not address the flooding issue that happened in March.

“We believe the second incident was an isolated event and is not connected to any other,” he said.