Damaged parking lot lights at FDMS to be replaced

School board says 29 of the five-year-old lights have issues

-Messenger photos by Peter Kaspari
The Fort Dodge Community School District is planning to replace 29 light poles in the Fort Dodge Middle School parking lot after a number of them were damaged by wind. The FDCSD board approved a price quote for the project at Monday’s meeting.

The majority of the light poles at the Fort Dodge Middle School will be replaced after a flaw was discovered in the design of the structures.

The Fort Dodge Community School District school board approved a bid from 3E Electrical Engineering & Equipment, of Windsor Heights, to replace the light poles later this year.

The bid was for $37,270.

Travis Filloon, FDCSD director of buildings and grounds, said the issue with the poles was discovered a couple years ago after high winds knocked down seven of the light poles and caused stress fractures in five others.

“We had subsequently come to discover there had been some design flaw in the flat, square pole versus a round pole,” he said, explaining that the square pole has a larger surface to air ratio.

“Once it starts moving, it tends to increase the vibration situation, fatigue the pole and cause it to prematurely fail,” Filloon said.

He recommended replacing the remaining 29 light poles with round ones.

Board President Stu Cochrane called it “unfortunate” that the poles already need to be replaced; they were installed in 2013 when the middle school opened.

“The wind negates the warranty?” Cochrane asked Filloon.

Filloon explained to the board that the poles can take up to 90 hour winds, but it won’t tolerate sustained gusts.

Board member Matt Wagner asked Filloon if the poles can be repurposed or if they have to be thrown away.

“Initially, I didn’t even consider repurposing them,” Filloon said. “There may be some merit to that.”

He said the bid the board approved was only for the pole replacements, not the cost of removing them.

Additionally, he said the manufacturer had never seen anything like this before.

“They’ve been selling it for several years and had never had the failure occur,” Filloon said.

The board also unanimously approved a bid from Bailey Roofing Contractors, Inc., of Urbandale, to replace portions of the roof on the recently-acquired annex building, 109 N. 25th St.

The bid came in at $76,250, which Filloon said is far below the original estimate of $130,000.