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MET building to see renovation, name change discussion

By Susan Mustapich | Oct 22, 2020
Photo by: Susan Mustapich Renovation begins Oct. 22 to turn the Mary E. Taylor building on Knowlton Street into school district administration offices and a home for the high school's alternative education program.

CAMDEN — The Camden-Rockport School Board accepted the low bid for renovation of the Mary E. Taylor school into school administration offices and a home for the high school alternative education program.

Board members voted Oct. 21 to accept the low bid from Ledgewood Construction totaling $4,130,850. In addition, the board accepted two additional alternate packages with the bid, one for new windows and another for asphalt paving for sidewalks.

District Superintendent Maria Libby said eight bids were received. She said there will be efficiencies in working with Ledgewood, which built the new Camden-Rockport Middle School.

She said using funds from a bond premium, the district has enough money to cover the costs of the main bid and two alternates.

The board discussed a name change for the Mary E. Taylor school.

Libby said this topic came up in the spring and is now back on the agenda. She suggested the board have a discussion about whether they want to change the name, and if so, toss around some possibilities. This is a decision for the board to make she said.

A decision within the next few months is timely, she said, as renovation of the building begins Oct. 22, and will “go very fast.”

Libby said she had written something for the board last year proposing it consider naming the building Rose Hall “in part “as a recognition of the incredible work that Keith Rose has done in our district.” Rose, who is retiring in December, oversees facilities for the Camden-Rockport and Five Town CSD. She thinks the new name can be complemented with plantings of roses bushes.

The building will have a new life, a new use and a new name is appropriate, she said, noting that is is common for building names to change when their use is changed.

Board member Marcia Dietrich said Rose’s contribution to the district has been unprecedented. Board member Becky Flanagan said there were two parts to the discussion, with the first deciding whether the name should be changed.

McCafferty said he is not opposed to changing the name. For 100 years, the building has honored a powerful administrator in the district and honored her well, he said. With a new generation changing uses, he would not be opposed to honoring someone from our generation, he said, especially someone who has put us on the path to sustainability, he said, referring to Rose.

Board member Peter Orne said it is an appropriate time to retire the name, as the district has just retired the building as a school. He said Mary E. Taylor can be memorialized within the building.

Libby recommended that a statement be sent out to the community about the board’s position on discussing a name change at its next meeting in November.

Board members agreed that the name change discussion would be added to their next meeting agenda.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: William Leonard | Oct 22, 2020 22:12

I have no quarrel with honoring Mr. Rose, but I take issue with changing the name of the Mary E Taylor building. I don’t buy the glib justification of “new life, a new use and a new name.” The building and the name are part of the same canvas that lives in the hearts and minds of several generations of MET alumni who advocated successfully to preserve this historical site. It was appropriately named to honor a woman who was a highly respected educator, mentor, and friend to the citizens of Camden of all ages.

As Superintendent Maria Libby stated, “I think there are a lot of people who want to keep historic places alive and not tear them all down so I think that’s a big piece of it...for me there’s actually a lot of sentimental value and for me I’m really excited to be going back into that building where I personally have a lot of history.”  I agree, but removing the name removes an integral part of Camden’s history.

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