Late developing drainage issues led to another $67k expenditure at LHS fields

LACONIA — School Board Chair Joe Cormier said the reason the city's Join Building Committee decided to spend an additional $67,000 for drainage around the new playing fields behind the high school was because rain that fell after it initially chose not to caused additional runoff woes.

The committee, which is comprised representatives of the School Board and the City Council met in an emergency session on July 3 and had given its co-chairs Cormier and Councilor Bob Hamel the authority to decide if addition drainage work was needed and to authorize the contractors to design and complete it.

The drainage problems became evident following a deluge on June 30 that partially washed away some of the turf on the steep slopes from the upper (Bobotas) field below to the new Jim Fitzgerald Field at Bank of New Hampshire Stadium. Drainage around the lower field directly behind the school also proved inadequate.

The heavy rains in late June came after a month of near constant rain — historically unusual for this part of the country but recently becoming more and more common during early summer.

Cormier said engineers and contractors met repeatedly in the first few days after the runoff damage with him and Hamel and school administrators and, facing additional costs, had decided that the drainage was sufficient as planned and installed because it was too expensive to do the additional work engineers recommended. The initial thinking was that with a few tweaks the drainage would work as built.

At the July 20 School Board meeting, Cormier told board and the Lakes Region Public Access viewing audience about the decision not to spend any additional money on field drainage. He and Hamel later authorized the expenditures and updated the JBC and the public at an August 2 JBC meeting.

Cormier said this week that runoff generated by additional storms after the July 20 school board meeting but before the August 2 JBC meeting indicated the School District would have to spend an additional $67,000 from the contingency portion of the available money for additional engineering and drainage to protect the new fields.

The entire Huot Project, including the building addition, five new science labs and the Bank of New Hampshire Stadium is about 99 percent complete. The new fields, according to the JBC, should be finished in about two weeks.