Purdy’s school storm shelter plans face hurdles

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Soft ground from stormwater runoff challenges plans

Technical issues received the main attention of Purdy school board members as they discussed progress on the FEMA shelter and early childhood building.

Kirsten Whitehead, project manager with Paragon Architecture, reported geotechnical and topographics studies had been done. Information on design development was heading to the cost estimator, Whitehead proposed moving the building to the north of the current early childhood center and farther back from the road, instead of keeping it close to the same space as the present preschool west of the high school.

The land drops from a high point at the northwest part of the school district’s parking lot, Whitehead observed. A more southern position would increase the earthmoving needed for a solid foundation and place it into a natural stormwater runoff area, which could become an issue in 50-, 100- or 500-year flood scenarios. Whitehead noted the project would disturb more than one acre, making it necessary to report the project to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources as part of a FEMA project.

Because of stormwater drainage, Whithead said the soil in the vicinity was soft, a Class D classification, the lowest rating, and could cause some rolling of a building underground. She thought removing soil and installing fly ash could stabilize the ground, but she was still exploring options. FEMA required at least a Class C for construction. Earthwork adjustment usually qualified as an eligible expense for FEMA reimbursement, but at a lower rate.

Superintendent Steven Chancellor noted the school district planned to enhance the project with its own funds to combine the storm shelter with classrooms and a performing arts center. The project would not be put at risk over limitations in FEMA funding. Whitehead said the district could apply for additional funds because of the soil issues.

In reviewing the initial plan ideas, Whitehead reported adding individual restrooms in the early childhood part of the building that would share plumbing added to the vestibule. She recommended switching the location of generator and the air conditioning system. It appeared a different location may allow pumping heating and cooling a shorter distance, thus making a more efficient system. Board members agreed to price two options, possibly choosing at the next meeting on Monday.

Board members also options for the exterior, what Chancellor referred to as “curb appeal.” They expressed interest in not having multiple roof lines, keeping the roofs to one or two. Questions were also raised about how to support a retractible stage and the current lack of a back exit off the stage.

A Sept. 1 deadline has been set to break ground to start the project. Whitehead estimated construction would take 12-14 months. Chancellor said a special meeting may be called to make design decisions so the construction contract could be awarded on schedule.

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