Peak flooding investigation report could be ready by February

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 456 views 

The investigation into frequent flooding at Fort Smith Public School’s Peak Innovation facility is continuing and a report is expected for the FSPS Board of Education by February.

School Board President Dalton Person reported to the board Monday (Dec. 18) at the end of the school board’s regular meeting that Illinois-based Envista Forensics has conducted one on-site inspection at Peak during its investigation and is setting up a second. The first was concentrated on subsurface issues. The next will look at surface issues including the roof, Person said.

The school board voted Sept. 25 to hire Envista Forensics to investigate multiple instances of flooding at the Peak. The initial proposal by Envista called for a $10,000 retainer and an hourly consulting fee of $275 an hour.

The school board voted June 21 to hire a company to conduct an independent investigation of drainage failures at the center. An RFQ was advertised beginning June 24. It called for an investigation into drainage failures at Peak Innovation Center and stated that the school board wanted a third-party review of the current drainage system and recent drainage failures at the center.

The RFQ stated that FSPS has invested more than $20.363 million, including millage funds, public and private grants, and other sources of funding, in Peak, “a place where career and college-bound students develop real-world skills and earn industry-specific certifications to create a future workforce that will drive success across industry and beyond.” The board voted June 21 that whoever is selected by the board to investigate the center will report to and operate under the direction of the school board.

The subject of an independent investigation into the flooding issues was broached after two companies involved with the construction of the center – Fort Smith-based Turn Key Construction, which was the construction manager at risk for the Peak Innovation Center project, and Halff Associates (formerly Morrison-Shipley Engineers, Inc.), engineers for the project – wrote letters to the school board raising concerns about the building and water issues. A June 1, 2023, letter from Halff to the school district noted that because of a “loss of trust with FSPS staff” they would no longer provide design services on the Peak project.

The RFQ stated that the school board expects a final deliverable written and oral report to the board that identifies inefficiencies and detailed failures within Peak’s building and planning process. They also want the report to include a comprehensive understanding of parties at fault in the recent drainage failures and recommended improvements for the district to incorporate in the future.

Plans to correct issues with roof drainage at Peak continue. MAHG Architecture reported Monday that the Peak roof drainage rerouting project, approved by the district in July, includes replacement of the Peak warehouse section roof drains and piping and rework of underground piping serving roof drains at the Peak main building.

The update said that exploratory investigations of the existing roof drain system has been conducted and that MAHG is coordinating a “mockup of a proposed solution for design team and district review.” The total cost of the project is estimated at $250,000.

Person said he would reach out to Envista to have them coordinate with MAHG about the project, so they would understand what is being done.