Historically, drainage from the entire athletic complex has run into a railroad ditch to the south of the complex. Greg Locke, the engineer on the Dallas Booster Club-led turf installation project said the area slopes that direction.
However, Dallas School District officials had considered reversing the flow and sending the runoff into the city’s system with the field and track improvement projects.
Locke said when he started his analysis of where to send drainage from the turf project, he found it might be easier to split the flow so a portion of the complex could drain to the south as it has in the past and another portion – that which is north of the turf field, and the tennis court would drain to the north into the city stormwater drain on Ash Street.
“The entire complex historically flowed south toward the railroad ditch,” Locke wrote in a memo to then-superintendent Michelle Johnstone dated Sept. 12, 2018. “City Public Works staff agrees that the natural course of the storm runoff is south and should continue that direction except for what can be diverted north into Ash Street without exceeding the Ash Street stormwater infrastructure.”
Locke wrote that based on the that, the city agreed that the flow could be split so long as the Ash Street stormwater drain wasn’t taking water in amounts that exceeded its capacity, and that the turf and track drainage design did not send more water south than with pre-developed conditions.
Locke sent an email to the city on May 24, 2018, outlining his proposal for drainage, which met the standards of the city’s Design Standards for Stormwater Management. The standards dictate that drainage systems control the “peak runoff rate” during storms by using systems that slow the water runoff, such as detention or filtering the water through material, such as rock, which is the case with the turf field.
In the email, Locke proposed the following:
• “Pre-developed flow rate will be based on current conditions and 100-year design storm.
“• Post-developed flow rate to the south in RR ditch will be limited to pre-development flow rate based on current condition. This is accomplished by turf drainage slowing effect and constructed detention, if needed.
“• Flow to the north in Ash St. will be utilized to the fullest extent but not exceeding the 3.1 cfs matching reserve capacity of the existing 15” pipe out. This will reduce the flow volume that make it to the RR ditch to the south.”
On the same day, then-Public Works director Frank Anderson replied:
“Hi Greg, we concur with your proposal. Please stay in touch with Tom Gilson and Michael Peirce in regards to the design aspect of this project.”
Locke said that the permit design was submitted based on the conditions in the email.
“Once we got that word, we submitted it that way,” Locke said. The city has those plans. That’s the permit. That how we built it.”
The field installation began in June 2018 and was complete in the fall of 2018. Subsequently, the district began the rebuild of the track this summer and fall. The base is complete, and the track surface is scheduled to be installed this spring, weather permitting.
Dallas resident Scott Short, who ran for Dallas School Board in 2019, has questioned the drainage decisions made during the turf field installation, and whether they ended up costing the district more when it rebuilt the track.
He submitted a complaint to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission against board member Matt Posey, who volunteered to the be general contractor on the turf project, asserting the track cost $900,000 more due to engineering decisions on the turf project.
“We will now be asked to pay an additional $800,000 to $1 million to move to fix the mistakes made before, during and after the field project was finished,” Short wrote in the complaint.
The complaint was dismissed, but Short said he still believe costly mistakes were made. He paid for an engineering analysis of the completed turf project that asserts that during some storm events, the amount of water runoff increases to the south. The report was compiled by Janet Turner, of Janet Turner Engineering, LLC.
Her conclusions find that flows are increased during two-year, five-year and 10-year storms. Flows decrease in 25-year and 100-year storms.
“It is unknown at this time if the existing ditch along the railroad tracks can handle the increased concentrated flows from the development,” Turner wrote.
Locke said the decision to continue to flow to the south was made late in the game, but it was approved by the city.
“It’s even better, I think. We were trying to force water uphill essentially, back into a system that it wasn’t going to,” Locke said. “The bottom line to me is what is the natural flow of the water. Where should it be going? Can we make it get there without adversely affecting the downstream? That’s what we calculated.”
Locke reviewed Turner’s report and said the that only standard required by the city is controlling peak flows of a 100-year storm event. He said her report agrees with his analysis.
“Based on the design criteria stated in the city’s Design Standards for Stormwater Management, Janet’s calculations confirm our analysis show the developed peak rate of runoff south into the ditch is lower now than before the turf was installed,” Locke wrote in a memo.
Short said he believes increasing the flow under any scenario is a state law violation.
As to the increased cost of the track, Dallas facilities director Bob Archer, who was hired after the turf project was complete, said initial estimates were for resurfacing only. Due to the field being repositioned and raised to correct a slope, the track needed to be rebuilt.
“The $1.2 million estimate is more the project in entirety, which is bringing the surface up to grade and adding all drainage for the track surface as well,” Archer said.
Interim superintendent Andy Bellando , also hired after the turf project, said the board decided to seek a loan to pay for the track, and will not use current maintenance bond funding.
“The construction of the turf field is not the reasoning for the increased cost of the track, based on the conversations with others in the community. I think there was some confusion. Early estimates for the track project didn’t account for some significant improvements that were needed in order to construct the track in the first place,” Bellando said. “The board recognized that at the time and messaged that to the community, and made the decision to fund the track with a loan, so there was no confusion about the bond dollars being used to fund the track that is more expensive than the original estimate.”
Short asserts the district knew the cost would be higher even before the bids come in.
Former facilities director Kevin Montague, who was released from his contract in April, said he repeatedly told district officials, including Johnstone, that the cost would be more expensive.
Montague said the $330,000 estimate was for replacing the track in the existing spot.
“I was never asked on costs at the time, but I knew at the time that there was no may the $330,000 would cover it if they raised the field and made those modifications,” Montague said.
Board Chairman Mike Blanchard said the district might not use a future bond to pay off the track project either, due to the favorable interest rate on the loan, which is about 2.5 percent.
“In my mind, just paying off this borrowing as we go makes the most sense,” Blanchard said. “In a future bond, we may consider, does this get wrapped up because there’s still additional work to be done at the high school athletic facilities. If it made sense at that point in time to include that in a future bond, we would look at it. But I think right now that interest rate is so low and payment is such that we probably won’t.”