Camden-Rockport Middle School new building project takes shape

Posted:  Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - 8:00pm

As we round the corner into spring, despite the nor’easter, we are getting closer and closer to breaking ground on the new school. We are very busy preparing for that moment, and we feel a mixture of excitement and exhaustion! We are so excited about the new school and the anchor it will provide our two communities. The school will be beautiful. The view from Knowlton Street will truly be spectacular.  That will be the “school” most people see and it was designed with the input and feedback from many community members.  There is a hint of a New England farmhouse with an attached barn in the design, using may common material options seen in classic New England architecture, including clapboards, cedar shingles, natural stone, and a board and batten “barn”, or cafeteria as it were.

I wanted to provide the community with an update on the project, as there are many interesting things happening, from finalizing designs for the project areas in each academic wing to working with a couple of Maine artists on dreaming up professional art installations if we can pull off the fundraising. School and district officials have also been working very closely with the Mary Beth Van Keuren (the Owners Representative) and Tyler Barter, the lead architect from Oak Point Associates, pouring over the new building plans, trying to pay attention to every detail to make sure the designed best fits our needs to serve students, staff, and the community for what we hope will be the next century. The space is going to offer a warm, welcoming, comfortable, and inspiring place to learn.

Most of the specific interests, such as the playground, art, interior color and materials, and green energy have sub committees hard at work. These committees are comprised of a mixture of staff and community members. As I mentioned, the Art subcommittee is working on a mixture of student and professional art installations. We are talking about continuing the seventh grade tile project, incorporating some inspiring garden features, and constructing either a whale or ship hull skeleton from the ceiling in the atrium. The Energy subcommittee has been trying to figure out a way to capture heat from the sewer treatment plant as well as look into options for photovoltaics. We were hoping to do a power purchase agreement (PPA) for the sewer thermal, but it turns out the project may be too small for that to work. We continue to look for other “green” alternatives or ways to creatively finance current ideas. The Playground subcommittee has completed most of its work to design a natural playscape that incorporates some traditional features (e.g. basketball hardtop and swings) with some nontraditional features (e.g. large slide down a sloped area and a tunnel). There will be an opportunity for community involvement in securing granite slabs, curbing, and boulders that we need to create this space.

We hope to secure a general contractor in early May and most likely break ground sometime in June. The contractor will stage construction behind the school on the baseball outfield area and will access the site through Lions Lane. It will be a busy place starting in June for a period of just over two years. But it will be truly amazing when completed and quite the legacy for this community. We are fortunate that the school is staying in a downtown area. It is great for students and the community!

Maria Libby is superintendent of School Administrative District 28