Mullins will make second MET presentation

By MSAD28/FiveTown CSD Superintendent Maria Libby | Feb 12, 2018

Camden — Michael Mullins will be hosting a public information session on Feb. 16 to discuss his proposed multi-use vision for the Mary E. Taylor building in Camden.

Last month Mullins outlined his concept of "Camden Workspace L3C," which would convert the 1920s structure into a shared workspace for a number of trades, including metalworking, woodworking and robotics, and would offer classes to adults as well as children. He presented his proposal as an alternative to demolishing the building when the new Camden-Rockport Middle School is constructed.

"The information session will take place as part of a Civic Forum focusing on the MET building. My talk will include a presentation on the MET/Camden Workspace project, as well as a status update, followed by a panel discussion including open public discussion regarding the future of MET from the standpoint of Historic Preservation, as well as the makerspace initiative," wrote Mullins on the "MET/Camden Workspace Interest Group" Facebook page on Feb. 10.

Mullins, who is the president of Boston-based Mullins Management Inc., initially presented his vision for the building at a public meeting of the MSAD 28 School Board on Jan. 10. Camden Workspace L3C would operate on a membership basis, where students or tradespeople could pay for the number of classes or the amount of time each month they planned to use the facility.

“I want to get kids to put their hands on things and stop thinking about the disposable consumer economy, and see how things work," said Mullins on Jan. 10, adding that the MET building offered plenty of room to provide storage for all the different types of equipment, project and workshop space necessary to the classes, as well as the inclusion of a computer, solar and robotics lab.

In the proposal submitted to the School Board on Nov. 30, Mullins estimated making an investment of $780,000 in the project, which would involve renovating the existing classrooms and creating a new entryway to the building. The end of November also marked a deadline set by the School Board for any proposal for the MET building, which may save it from demolition when the rest of the existing middle structure is removed to create the new CRMS.

“In order to get the collaboration we envision – lots of different tradespeople, kids coming in...we want to make the memberships as affordable as possible, and our goal is to have memberships in the hundreds," said Mullins, who added that rather than seeking financing from a bank, he hoped to have people in the community invest directly in the organization.

The School Board declined Mullins' proposal on Jan. 10. On Jan. 24, the MSAD 28 School Board voted to approve a motion which would seek a cost estimate from Oak Point Associates to turn the Mary E. Taylor building on Knowlton Street into a "multi-use" building for the school district.

According to this motion, approval for the project, and the fate of the Knowlton Street building, would ultimately lie in the hands of the public, when it appears as a referendum question in the November 2018 ballot in the towns of Camden and Rockport.

In a letter sent to the Camden Herald on Feb. 12, Superintendent Maria Libby said that on Feb. 14 the School Board will approve a committee charter for a new committee to develop a concept for repurposing the MET building in anticipation of the Nov. 2018 ballot. The committee will include members of the school board, community and school staff.

"The [School] Board has heard the interest in the community in finding a viable future use for the MET building. The Board is also aware that part of the community supports demolishing the building. Controversy has surrounding this building for the past 10 months. The Board understands its role to serve the educational needs of our students, but also recognizes the role of the school and this building in the larger community," wrote Libby.

The Camden Workspace public forum will be held at 5:45 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 16 in the Geoffrey C. Parker Meeting Room of the Rockport Opera House. The SAD 28 School Board meets Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. in the Camden Rockport Elementary School atrium.

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