By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
Oklahoma School for the Blind students soon could have a colorful garden with curving walkways, a playground and bright, aromatic flowers.
First, however, the school must improve drainage to keep surface water from seeping into the basement, OSB Superintendent Jim Adams said.
“Frequently, we get flooding in the basement, where you have water standing,” Adams said. “We come in right away to vacuum it up, but it causes damage to the walls.
“When the water seeps through the wall it picks up the lime,” Adams said, showing how the seepage causes the walls to form bumps.
Adams said the school plans to move the surface water away from the building’s foundations.
He said he expects the project to go out for bids next month. He said the project could cost “a little more than $500,000.”
Adams said the renovations would include tying downspouts to underground lines, “so water would never run out onto the ground.”
The underground lines would lead to a larger line, which will carry water to a pasture north of the OSB campus, 3300 Gibson St. Adams compared the lines to a French drain.
Adams said he was concerned about the stability of the buildings, one of which will be 100 years old in January.
“As the complex has expanded, previous engineers didn’t take into account where water was going,” he said. “Water has no place to go except seep through the walls of the basement, seeps through walls.”
The water has damaged walls in some basement classrooms, he said.
OSB Technology and Engineering Instructor Ronnie Darden said that when the water seeps through the walls, “it follows the path of least resistance, wherever there is a crack.”
Darden showed a hole in his classroom wall where water seeped near a covered electric line.
Adams said he hopes to get the drainage and basement work finished by April. The construction could disrupt classes in the basement, including the technology class, home economics and a middle-school math class.
The school is aiming for the April deadline so it can start work on the interpretive garden before the weather gets hot, Adams said.
He said the garden would feature raised garden beds with “a variety of plants of bright colors and distinct smells and textures.”
“I see the garden to be a place to connect science to the classes,” he said. “It’s a tranquil, low-stress area for the students.”
He said the garden would be funded mostly by donations. The school also seeks to form partnerships with businesses and civic groups to help with the labor.
The garden will be named in memory of the late Ray F. Kirk, a Muskogee rancher appointed to the Commission for Rehabilitation Services. Adams said Kirk, who died in March, was an advocate for the school.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.