Public input heard on Camden-Rockport Middle School renovations
Camden — Ideas for renovation of Camden-Rockport Middle School were discussed Oct. 24 by members of the public and the hired architects of the project.
Interested community members met with representatives of Oak Point Associates of Biddeford for a workshop to discuss what the community would like to see happen to the building and campus.
“We are here to get your input and ask the tough questions,” said Oak Point President Robert Tillotson. “You use it, love it and pay for it, so we want to make sure that we heard you and did what you asked for.”
Three breakout groups talked about building electrical and technology systems, exterior architecture and landscaping and the physical building.
“We need to know what changes everyone would like to see and give us ideas on how to bring the building into the 21st century without breaking the bank,” Tillotson said.
Allowing for separation of students in grades 5 and 6 from those in grades 7 and 8, while including a few common areas, was one of the many ideas topping the list of priorities. Functionality, security and energy efficient heating systems, along with better use of space also were top concerns among those in attendance.
The school has undergone numerous renovations since it was built. The original Camden Grade School — now CRMS — was constructed in 1925 and shortly thereafter was renamed Mary E. Taylor School. In 1950, a 1,600-square-foot space was erected to house the school’s gymnasium, lockers and boiler rooms. The next addition was completed in 1955, which contained several classrooms and science labs.
The two buildings were connected in 1962 with the addition of another educational wing between the cafeteria and the gymnasium. This section of the building is known as the Andrews wing. Two more additions were built in the ‘60s, including the industrial arts wing, and in 1980 the mini-gym and additional classrooms were added.
In 2000, four other major projects were completed. Those projects included a second 2,400-square-foot connector between the Andrews wing and the gymnasium. An elevator was installed in this connector and old locker rooms were converted into storage space. New locker rooms were built on the gymnasium level where a stage used to be.
Keeping and using the Mary E. Taylor portion of the building as an anchor, or cornerstone, of the project was a reoccurring theme and one community member stated, “I believe you’d have a hard time selling the idea of tearing down that building to anybody around here.”
As for the remainder of the building, the question was asked if it had any value to the community.
“We would like to know if there is something that is special about the newer part of the building and from what I have heard there really isn’t,” Tillotson said, “It really isn’t up to us, it is up to you to decide to vote any of this up or down, but again, we are here to ask the tough questions.”
Oak Point Associates have been tasked to complete the study, which includes analysis of the middle school site to determine its ongoing suitability as a middle school campus, the development of a new site plan including any proposed facility additions or demolitions, and to assist in developing educational specifications to meet state standards and district needs.
The study will also take a look at space allocation and how it can help support the philosophical goals of the school as well as create a plan for traffic patterns in regard to safety during student drop-off and pick-up. Office space requirements also will be considered.
In addition, Oak Point is expected to present a plan to address energy efficiency and sustainability for the facility. Safety and security consistent with current technology and best practices and a timeline and cost estimates are also part of the study.
Oak Point has won numerous awards for its school designs including Lincolnville Central School and Vinalhaven Community School.
Dwight Collins is a reporter/photographer for The Camden Herald.
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