Ruidoso High School Drainage Improvements
In the fall of 2008, the services of our firm were retained by the Ruidoso Municipal Schools District (RMSD). The scope of work was the evaluation of drainage problems at the Ruidoso High School, a campus built in the early 1980s. Review of record drawings suggested that the site was designed without the benefit of a comprehensive Grading and Drainage Plan prepared by a Civil Engineer. This was compounded by difficult to maintain drainage and site conditions. The end result was storm water adversely impacting portions of the existing buildings and facilities in six distinct locations on the campus. The most severe impact was seepage into the main gymnasium causing widespread damage to its floor on several occasions.
RMSD is a small school district primarily serving the Village of Ruidoso and Ruidoso Downs. As a small school district, the RMSD is not afforded in-house staff members dedicated to the planning, design and maintenance of its facilities. In addition, funding is limited for capital improvements. Hence, RMSD must rely upon technical and financial assistance from the State of New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority (PSFA). In recognition of this, the Engineering and Surveying Principals of our firm developed a clear and concise scope of work summarized in a written report supplemented with representative photographs. While the report was technical in nature, we succeeded in presenting it in a manner that non-technical professionals could comprehend. Approval of the Preliminary Evaluation Report identifying the problems and outlining scope by the Ruidoso School Board demonstrates our success in winning the confidence of this client.
To add to the challenges of the design-related aspects of the project, our surveying services were provided without the benefit of a district real estate specialist or the participation of title professionals to complement the project. As a result, our surveyors researched the records of the County Clerk to obtain the necessary ownership documents required to conduct Boundary Surveying critical to the evaluation and treatment of existing drainage conditions and related design solutions. Further, the final survey disclosed the use of school property by local governmental entities and ultimately facilitated the school’s use of adjoining properties as compensation to the school district by those entities.
For this particular project, PSFA funded the project via a loan. This created a scenario whereby our firm was in fact serving two clients. The first being the PSFA, the client responsible for paying for the work and the second being the RMSD, the client who would derive the benefit of the work. While this might create conflicts for some firms, separating design from process allowed us to avoid this dilemma. We designed the drainage improvements to serve the School District and its personnel as they would be impacted the greatest by the constructed improvements. By keeping this fact in mind, the design solutions focused on effectively solving drainage deficiencies identified in the engineering report while limiting maintenance obligations in the long term. Design solutions require adequate study to ensure that the deficiency will be corrected for the life of the facility, the proposed construction is appropriate for the local construction community, and the completed improvements will be easy to maintain. Conversely, we ensured that the Project Manual and Contract Documents strictly conformed to PSFA requirements and form, thereby eliminating the possibility of jeopardizing or delaying the much needed funding. The design was completed in the spring of 2009 and a contractor was selected in the summer of 2009.
Throughout construction, we worked closely with school staff to minimize the disruption of educational activities. This, at times, slowed the contractor’s progress, lengthening the construction duration. This was further compounded by the most severe winter in the last 20 years. Record snowfalls followed by periods of melting and freezing hampered and, at times, stalled construction progress. HMCG documentation of weather delays and evaluating the effects of weather on the work site were required to justify failure to meet the originally projected construction deadline. Substantial Completion of Construction was achieved in April, 2010.