Mora board rejects advice

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By David Giuliani

The Mora school board has decided to proceed with the original project for a multipurpose sports complex, despite an official’s recommendation for a third-party investigation of a water problem at the site.

Superintendent Dora Romero recently recommended that the board hire a third-party engineer “in order to gain perspective as to what actually needs to be done to remedy our situation.”

That recommendation was in response to the discovery of a problem with water bubbling up from the ground at the site.

“My intent as superintendent is to ensure that (the Mora district) ends up with a good final product. My recommendation was not acted on,” Romero said in a statement to the Optic last week.

Instead, a separate motion passed 4-1 to proceed with the original project. Supporting that motion were Alex Montoya, George Trujillo, Ronald Duran and Dante Vigil. The lone dissenter was Robert Romero.

The project had been stopped in early June after district personnel discovered that the contractor’s equipment had sunk into the ground. Then, the site, including two retention ponds on the east side of the future complex, started filling with both ground and surface water.

The contractor for the project is Bosque Farms, N.M.-based Lone Mountain Contracting, while the designs professionals are Santa Fe-based Ortega, Romero and Rodriguez architects and its subcontractor, Albuquerque-based Miller Engineering Consultants.

Antonio Ortega of Ortega, Romero and Rodriguez architects said in June that the project would cost more than expected so that the track and field can be raised to prevent water from destroying the complex.

He said at the time that the project was “engineered well” but that the nearby landowners hadn’t maintained ditches that are supposed to keep water away from Mora, which had created an “anomaly.”

Verlyn Miller of Miller Engineering has told the Optic that another firm conducted the study on water in the area but that none of the experts were aware of the historical fluctuations with the moisture. He said district officials had a responsibility to tell the architect about the problem, which has affected the baseball field and other areas of the Mora High School campus.

John Romero, a Mora County resident who is a civil engineer by trade, called the board’s decision “very stupid.” He said the project must be changed to avoid the water problem.

“The bottom line is that they had a bad design. It will be a waste of money. In the future, they’ll have problems,” he said.

The project’s first phase includes a football field and track.