Groundbreaking celebrated at Camden-Rockport Middle School

By Susan Mustapich | Sep 15, 2018
Photo by: Erma Colvin From left, Camden-Rockport Middle School students Wesley Mayhorn and Cadence Ankers and principal Jaime Stone, Rockport Town Manager Rick Bates, Camden Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell, CRMS building committee chairman Will Gartley, SAD 28 Superintendent Maria Libby, school board chairman Matt Dailey, Ledgewood Construction project manager Peter Reynolds, Oak Point senior architect Tyler Barter, and Ledgewood assistant project manager Justin Hibbard pitched in for the official groundbreaking Sept. 13 for the new Camden-Rockport Middle School.

CAMDEN — Middle school students, school and town officials and construction, design and engineering project managers gathered to celebrate the official groundbreaking Sept. 13 for the new Camden-Rockport Middle School.

The planned opening of the new school is September 2020.

Middle school students, wearing hard hats provided by Ledgewood Construction, filled up the audience seats, along with teachers, town officials and community members. Ledgewood, the company hired to build the school, provided 400 small hard hats for the occasion, as well as regular size hard hats for local officials, according to a company spokesperson.

Speakers at the groundbreaking included SAD 28 Superintendent Maria Libby, CRMS Principal Jaime Stone, SAD 28 Board Chairman Matt Dailey and sixth-grade student Charlotte Delahey.

Libby called the path leading up to the groundbreaking "a long journey." She recounted how, as the former CRMS principal, she brought her concerns about the condition of the middle school building to the school board in 2008 and again in 2012. A formal plan was initiated in 2013 to build a new school and renovate the Mary E. Taylor building.

"After a failed vote in 2015, we all pulled up our boot straps, made a stronger case, engaged the community more thoroughly, and secured voter approval in June of 2017," Libby said. "Those challenges were perhaps the harbingers of what was to come, for we have had our fair share of challenges since."

Libby thanked the project leaders with Oak Point Associates and Ledgewood Construction, and the local team, including CRMS building committee chairman, Will Gartley, SAD 28's owners representative, Mary Beth Van Keuren, clerk of the works, Tom McNealy, Stone, and SAD 28/CSD facilities director, Keith Rose.

She wrapped up with a "thank you to the taxpayers of Camden and Rockport who helped us realize this vision – it is quite a legacy we will all be leaving. The middle does matter. I am honored to be part of this gathering today to celebrate the launching of this project."

In her remarks, Stone thanked "the people who led and continue to lead the endless work, the planning for and designing of the building, and the fighting for the opportunity to have a healthy, modern, and efficient building that will stand in our community for the next hundred years."

"Once complete and standing tall behind me our school building will be another representation of the investment we are making in our children in Camden and Rockport," she said.

Work on excavation and construction of the foundation for the academic wing of the new school began in mid-July behind the existing school building. Part of the existing structure at the back of the middle school was demolished this summer, which had contained the eighth-grade wing, chorus room and mini-theater, and three temporary classrooms were added to the property.

In June 2017, 70 percent of Camden and Rockport voters approved $26 million for a new middle school, with $22 million slated for construction costs.

In May 2018, the lowest construction bid came in at $28 million from Ledgewood Construction, sending residents back to a town meeting-style vote on a plan to finance the higher costs. Voters packed the CRMS gymnasium at the meeting, with 72 percent approving a path forward that involved changes to financing and construction.

The cost-cutting strategy includes using using less expensive materials, design modifications and leaving certain areas of the building unfinished. The financing strategy, approved by voters at the special meeting, includes using for the construction some existing capital reserve funds, $1.3 million budgeted for the 2018-19 bond principal payment, extending the repayment schedule by one year and bond premium funds.

A sea of hard hat wearing middle school students filled the audience at the official groundbreaking ceremony for the new Camden-Rockport Middle School Sept. 13. (Photo by: Erma Colvin)
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