Camden-Rockport Middle School renovation options presentedOak Point and Associates share proposed site plans for new CRMS building
Camden — The second public forum on possible renovations to Camden-Rockport Middle School took place Jan. 29., during which three concepts were presented by Oak Point Associates of Biddeford.
Oak Point was charged with creating three options ranging from new construction to renovation of some of the existing structures.
The first option presented keeps the Mary E. Taylor building and gymnasium but adds new academic wings. The second option connects new construction to the Mary E. Taylor building and the third option involves demolition of the entire school, except the Mary E. Taylor portion which would become a stand-alone building housing the superintendent’s office as well as adult and alternative education offices.
To create the three proposals, Oak Point compiled community input from a previous meeting and its own analysis of the site.
“When we did the walk through at the beginning of the process, it was easy to see the nicely maintained hallways and the artwork adorning the hallways and the use of educational space, which could make it easy to concede that the building is fine,” School Administrative District 28 Superintendent Elaine Nutter said Jan. 30. “It is not until you dig deep and get into all those nooks and crannies to see where some of the more serious problems lie.”
She added the importance of the study is to have an outside entity help identify not only the district needs for educational programming, but also safety and bringing the school up to code.
“Some of the improvements that have to be made are ones that will not improve the education experience, but are things required by law that need our attention,” Nutter said.
Robert Tillotson, president of Oak Point, reminded the audience the plans presented were based on public input, programming needs, and zoning and safety issues. In no way are the plans written in concrete, he said, adding all are concepts only at this time.
“These plans are representational, we wanted to make it so that you had a number of thing to ask questions about and talk about,” Tillotson said. “These are just some things for you folks to think about.”
Construction of a new building becomes more financially responsible with long-term savings with a building that is more efficient to heat, cool and power, he noted.
Nutter offered a comparison of energy use between district schools. The middle school currently uses more gallons of heating fuel than Camden Hills Regional High School and Camden-Rockport Elementary School combined.
“This is largely in part to the sprawling design of the current middle school building and the amount of unused space that still has to be heated,” Nutter said. “Another reason there is such a disparity in the cost of heating the building is the other two sites use of geo-thermal heating and cooling instead of an inefficient boiler system, which CRMS currently has.”
She also clarified plans for new construction that would reduce the overall footprint of the school. As it stands, the building offers more than 120,000 square feet. New construction plans call for a reduction to roughly 80,000 square feet. Nutter explained that the reduction would “right-size” the building based on current, and a possible increase of, enrollment.
“People relocate to our districts because of our facilities, faculty and staff and we offer many programs that most middle schools do not offer,” Nutter said. “The current building does not have a negative effect on learning, but it does hamper opportunities for growth. A combination of great students, amazing staff and a state-of-the-art building will only create the best educational experience possible.”
She added, “We have plenty of space now, just not usable space.”
The next step in the process is the creation of a Communications Committee charged with keeping the public informed about the ongoing process. The committee will consist of teachers and staff, administration, school board and community members. Nutter said anyone interested in being on the committee can forward their names to the superintendent's office for consideration.
Nutter said another public forum will be scheduled in the spring and at that meeting Oak Point and the committees involved will be able to get to the “nuts and bolts” of the matter concerning costs, building design and narrow site plan options.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us and it is important that the community understands that we are taking in all of their input and using it towards moving in the right direction and we as a district are making the right decision,” she said.
Dwight Collins is a reporter/photographer for The Camden Herald.
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