Tanglewood gym floor

This image shows some of the damage done to the gym floor at Tanglewood Elementary following flooding from heavy rains this spring. Water infiltrated the foundation of the building and caused a rubber membrane underneath the gym floor to absorb water and buckle the wooden tiles.

At its July 8 meeting, the Derby Board of Education voted to replace the damaged gym floor at Tanglewood Elementary School – a start to fixing a larger flooding problem at the building.

The hardwood gym floor was damaged by groundwater following heavy rains this spring.

“We’ve had groundwater that has entered the foundation of the gym at Tanglewood and has ruined the gym floor,” said Joe Dessenberger, director of finance and operations for Derby Public Schools. 

The board accepted a base bid from Foster Flooring to remove the old floor and replace it for $54,694.28. Dessenberger said insurance is expected to cover the cost of the replacement minus the district’s $25,000 deductible.

In its request for bids, the school district required the project be completed before the upcoming school year begins.

Replacing the gym floor at Tanglewood Elementary is a first step, but not the final solution to the flooding problem.

Dessenberger said poor grading of land outside three of the gym’s walls currently allows water to infiltrate the building’s foundation.

“It was just a matter of time before we had a problem over there,” he said. “I would have fought to not approve this design back in 1991 had I been standing here; I wouldn’t have allowed it.”

Joe Dessenberger

Joe Dessenberger, director of finance and operations for Derby Public Schools, speaks at the July 8 board of education meeting. Dessenberger requested board approval on a civil engineering design at Tanglewood Elementary School. 

Once water got inside the gym’s foundation this spring, it ruined the rubber membrane underneath the hardwood floor and caused it to buckle.

On the east side of the gym, an electric sump pump is currently in place next to an exterior door. But when that pump goes out due to electricity or clogging, Dessenberger said, water flows directly into the door behind it.

“The sump pump at the bottom of the stairs is not a viable option for protecting the expensive wood floor inside that door,” he said.

To prevent future flooding, the district will pursue a civil engineering project to regrade the ground outside of the gym to encourage water to flow away from the building.

A concrete “apron” will be placed around the building. Drain lines will be upsized and a proper sewer system will be installed as part of the project.

Chris Young of Young and Associates, the consulting firm behind the civil engineering project, spoke at the meeting.

“There’s quite a lot of things going on here both inside and outside the building,” Young said.

He said the building currently lacks a foundation drain, which removes water from underneath.

“I think what you’re seeing is a buildup of water and water pressure,” he said.

The project will cost an estimated $150,000.

Dessenberger said the district could save money by using approximately 1,000 cubic feet of earth excavated during the Tanglewood project as fill for a nearby bond construction project at the district’s new administrative center. This could only be possible if the same contractor bids for both projects.

Costs for replacing the floor and the project will come from the school district’s capital outlay funds.

Board members voted to approve the civil engineering design as it was presented, allowing the district to begin accepting bids for the project.

The project was originally listed as a discussion item on the agenda, but board members re-designated it as an action item at the request of Dessenberger. This allowed the board to take action on the project immediately rather than wait two weeks to move at the July 22 meeting.