While the majority of SAD 28 School Board members voted to approve Oak Point as the architectural firm for the Mary E. Taylor building renovation, and Mary Beth Van Keuren as the project's clerk of the works, a minority voted against both proposals.

The votes took place at the Dec. 19 board meeting at Camden Rockport Elementary School.


Board Chairman Matt Dailey recommended that Oak Point serve as the archtectural firm that will draw up the plans needed in order to bid the project out to construction companies. He asked board members to modify a decision made in January to put out a request for qualifications for the project, and choose Oak Point instead.

Oak Point is the architectural firm for the new Camden Rockport Middle School.

This summer, Oak Point Senior Architect Tyler Barter outlined the needed renovations and budget for the MET building, at the request of the MET Repurposing Committee. A third party chosen by the committee to review Barter's work agreed with Oak Point's suggested $5 million budget. In November, voters approved the MET renovation, and authorized SAD 28 to borrow $4.89 million for the project.

Dailey said Oak Point is capable, qualified and has been working with SAD 28 for five years. He pointed out that the request for qualifications or proposals is time-consuming, and that moving forward with a company that already knows the building is a more efficient use of time. Board members Marcia Dietrich and Carole Gartley agreed with Dailey.

A member of the public called for putting out a request for proposals for an architect, to give local architects an opportunity to respond.

Board member Patrick McCafferty agreed with the idea of opening up the work to a local architect.

Dietrich pointed out that Oak Point's work has already been vetted. The third-party opinion sought by the MET Repurposing Committee validated Oak Point's budget and description of the project, she said. She reminded the board that the third party confirmed that Oak Point's proposal is "bare bones," and that the third party's cost assessment was slightly higher. She expressed concern that the current middle school construction project is stretching the work of school administration to the limit, and asked the board not to add to that workload.

Board member Elizabeth Noble noted that Oak Point underestimated the construction cost for the middle school. "Some of that has to fall on their shoulders," she said. "That they failed us somehow."

After Dietrich called the vote, a majority of board members voted to approve Oak Point as the archtect for the MET renovation, with Noble and McCafferty voting against Oak Point.

Clerk of the works

When Daily recommended appointing Van Keuren clerk of the works for the MET project, board members questioned her handling of soil erosion problems at the middle school construction site in November.

Van Keuren currently serves as SAD 28's representative on the construction site for the new middle school, working 15 hours per week.

On Nov. 30, the Department of Environmental Protection issued a notice of violation to SAD 28 for failure of erosion control structures to keep soil from flowing off of the siteĀ and into the Megunticook River during heavy rains.

District Superintendant Maria Libby said Dec. 19 that she was blindsided by the call from the DEP, because she was not informed that winter erosion control measures, scheduled to be in place by Nov. 1, were not completed.

The soil erosion problem was worsened by a combination of large amounts of excavated soil on-site, and heavy rains. Ledgewood Construction found that clay soils on the site were unsuitable, and had to be removed from the site. The amount of soil that had to be removed was 1,500 yards, three times what was estimated. During the time that the soil was stockpiled on the site to dry before being hauled off, heavier-than-usual rains occurred.

Noble asked why Van Keuren did not inform the SAD 28 board about the soil erosion. "That caught us off guard," she said.

Board member Sarah Bradley-Prindiville said when Van Keuren reported to the board about erosion issues, "she didn't report to us that things that were supposed to be in place were not in place."

Van Keuren was present at the Nov. 14 board meeting, and provided an update on the middle school construction site. According to minutes of the meeting, she told the board that "significant rain continues to be a challenge, but runoff is being managed and there have been no breaches of the site. Calls to the town regarding concern for runoff have been responded to quickly with no issues."

Libby said she had informed Van Keuren that she must be made aware of all issues on the construction site that can have consequences. She said she was not aware that while Van Keuren had talked to subcontractor JBI about putting up the winter erosion-control structures, the work was not done on schedule. Libby said that if she had known that, she would have spoken to the president of Ledgewood Construction, the company building the school. She said since she informed Van Keuren that she expects to hear about problems from her first, and not from outside sources, she has been receiving daily updates on the site.

The vote was called, and Van Keuren was approved as clerk of the works for the MET renovation. Noble's was the sole vote against.

The necessary erosion-control structures were completed in the first few days of December. Libby confirmed that SAD 28 does not have to pay for that, it is paid for by the construction company and subcontractors involved.

The Dec. 19 board meeting began with a presentation of photographs of the erosion- control measures built or improved at the CRMS construction site. For more information on the presentation and to view the full SAD 28 Board meeting on UTube, go to youtube.com/watch?v=qiEignKOlac&t=2643s