We here in the Camden Hills are so well aware of our natural beauties, the harbors and the Bay, the mountains and farmlands, and an amazing collection of fine structures and architecture. And though the natural and built environment brings the tourists to help pay for this, it is the community, the ambiance and the education system and facilities are what bring the folks and families to live. This has historically been the experience; families have moved here for the schools since the early twentieth-century, necessitating the building of the Mary E. Taylor School MET.
Not to say that Camden-Rockport is a ‘college town’ but it sometime has that feel when one reads of and experiences the myriad school activities and educational energy spent by our students, faculties and administrators throughout the District. The High School, a wonderful, contemporary facility in Rockport, soon to be joined by an equally exciting and up to date, contemporary Middle School in Camden added to the areas diverse cultural centers does make the community a bit of an Education Center. And we still have MET, soon to be ready to be remade into another fine place in the Center
We have grown to become this much desired educational system in part through sound educational facilities planning. The later phases of the facilities plan have presented themselves. With the construction of the new Middle School we are we gifted w/ a fine, expansive, venerable educational structure that fits very well w/ the implementation of these planned school building projects. We are now being asked to vote to approve the funding necessary to, not just upgrade and repurpose MET but to also finalize the school’s building needs. This is for work that can be accomplished now, in an orderly and well sequenced process at today’s dollars and not have to reignite the passions of a future building’s design and construction
The Bus Barn on Lions Lane, adjacent to the existing Mary E Taylor (MET) now contains (w/ difficultly) the Superintendent’s Offices and the most successful Zenith Program. Included also in the planning are accommodations for an expanded, dynamic Adult Education Program. The Bus Barn wants to deal w/ busses and should be expanded and refurbished for to do so. MET wants to deal with education and students and instructors, teachers and administrators, and has done quite well at it for ninety plus years. And wants to for a bunch more.
The Repurposing MET Committee did a fine job of identifying the problems w/ the existing structure and working out a concept(s) to accommodate the Superintendent’s Office, the Zenith and Adult Education. MET accommodates very well, w/ much room to spare for expansion. In fact, the surfeit of floor area and volume makes available for other congenial uses, perhaps revenue generating, the entire, Lower Level of the building. There has been an large number of community, municipal and other compatible groups and organizations that have shown a strong interest in the quite flexible lower level.
The monies being voted for are not inconsequential, no building’s construction/reconstruction is. The Repurposing Committee has done a fine job of determining the building reconstruction and administrative costs and they have been verified by a second professional estimator. The proposed structure and utilities, (heating-AC, electrical, Telcom/AV etc.) for the reconstruction are finely explored and well thought out, not overly sophisticated and loaded w/ experimental technologies. They are planned for a durable, long future. The bulk of reconstruction deals mostly w/ making the building’s egress and interior circulation (an elevator) meet contemporary building codes for educational/multiuse buildings and satisfy the needs of the programs. The costs are not excessive for 2018, comparable to the new school building’s new construction costs.
The alternative is to take an undeveloped parcel of difficult land away from town, provide all new parking and site utilities for a structure(s) that will not be as accommodating (large enough -$’s limit) for future use, and probably inconvenient. MET has plenty of free parking, and site utilities are on site and the building is already here, of the community, convenient; a nearly perfect place to continue the facilities plan. With (perhaps not all) of this funding by the voter and a lot of hard work (local) from our extremely talented and knowledgeable constructors, designers, engineers, facilities managers, financiers, preservationists and educators, experienced in dealing with fine (and some not so fine) old buildings MET can be remade as 2018+ and still maintain its same dignified place in the community as 1925
Yes for Question 1 – SAD Ballot
Yes for Question 2 – E.O. Camden Ballot
Chris Fasoldt lives in Camden and sits on the Camden Historic Resources Committee