New Camden-Rockport Middle School project update

Mon, 05/04/2020 - 10:15am

    Camden-Rockport K-8 Superintendent Maria Libby submitted the following May 4:

    It has been several months since I’ve provided a community update on the middle school project and I am happy to report that we are still on schedule to open September 8 this year. The global pandemic has had a small impact on the project, but not a significant one. Because students will not return this spring, we packed up the building and plan to give it to the contractors to begin the abatement and demolition process over a month early.

    The asbestos abatement (floor tiles) will begin this week and demolition is slated to begin in early June. Once demolition begins, the public will get a sneak peek at the front of the building, which has been blocked by the current middle school for the whole project thus far. The street facing part of the school has the exact look and feel we wanted – a classic Maine residential feel, big barn included, that fits into the neighborhood setting. It has a modern flair right at the entrance that works well in the overall design. I am excited for it to be “unveiled.” 

    The classroom wing continues to be the section of the building that is the furthest along. The last ceiling tiles are being hung, the final inspections are being done, lockers arrive in a couple of weeks, the radiant floor heat will be fired up soon, and the final cleaning will happen in early June. They are working on the final touch up and punch list items now. That portion of the building will be turned over to the district in late July.

    The front of the building contains the public spaces. The library is looking great. A section of it has a wood ceiling, the view over the baseball field is spectacular, and it has an adjoining Maker Space. The carpet goes in this week and the shelving will be installed when the furniture arrives in early August. The gymnasium looks like a gym with basketball hoops and locker rooms. There are a number of skylights in the gym that bring in a lot of natural daylight. The floor is scheduled to be installed in early June.  The cafeteria is well on its way – the wood ceiling will be installed at the end of the week, kitchen equipment in about a month, and all the furniture in August. The Bisbee Theater will be one of the last parts to be turned over to the district. Although we are finalizing inscriptions on the seats that were “sold” for fundraising, there are no seats in there yet!

    Finally, the site sub-contractor has been doing a lot of work grading the playground, placing hardscape, and setting bases for some of the equipment. The playground is going to be a unique space – it is a large natural playscape with some key pieces of equipment. Students and community members are going to love this space! It is important to stay off it until the grass has seeded and it is actually open, however.

    This week the project really hit home because we vacated the old building and demolition is soon to begin. It feels strange walking through the halls with empty rooms, scattered discarded broken furniture, and spray-painted notices on the floors and walls indicating the areas that need abatement. I have personally spent a lot of time in that school building. I moved to Camden in grade 5 which was housed in the Andrews Wing. I remained on that campus through grade 12, then came back to teach, and eventually moved into administration. All told, that building has been a part of my life for 30 years. Truth be told, I have very little sentimentality for it. The building never functioned well - it wasn’t well designed - and it left a lot to be desired in terms of aesthetics. I spent years moving buckets around the halls to catch intruding water when it rained. I was thrilled when we installed a new entrance to hide the unattractive custodial sink and cleaning supplies that met your eyes upon entering the school. 

    It was what happened inside the building that mattered. It will be the same in the new building. Yes, it will be great to be in well-designed, aesthetically pleasing space, but what will matter is what happens between all the humans who will roam those halls for the next 75 – 100 years. We are nearing completion of a beautiful space for that magic to happen.