OXFORD – The owners of the former Robinson Mfg. Co. woolen mill have plans to turn it into a residential and retail village on the shore of Thompson Lake.

On Thursday night, John Robinson presented the plans to selectmen. He did not expect any action to be taken – and none was – he just wanted to see how the plan was received, he said.

His presentation was met with a few questions and little concern.

“I wanted to present it and get your thoughts and suggestions before moving forward,” he told selectmen.

Robinson said the mill has been in his family for six generations, operating as textile plant for more than 150 years before being shut down in 2004.

Robinson, who lives in Raymond, is a member of the state House of Representatives.

A large part of the redevelopment will be the marina on the King Street side of the lake, Robinson said. It will be expanded beyond the 50 slips there now, and the boat ramp will be revamped. A walking path would also be added.

There are 61 residential units planned throughout the approximate 150,000-square-foot property, Robinson said. The mill complex covers about 10 acres, he said.

In the old mill building nearest the lake, there will be four units on the four floors. The old boiler room would be converted into a restaurant or snack bar for the marina, Robinson said.

The one-story building toward the lake outlet stream would be converted into a first-stage retirement community.

There would also be 10 units of townhouses built in the field next to Pleasant Street.

Robinson said the plan includes reopening the former Main Street that connects Pleasant and King streets to “slow speed” traffic.

Six to 10 retail units and parking are also included in the development.

A goal of the village, Robinson said, would be to bring back the idea of having a “downtown” area which, after talks with residents, is what he believes they want.

The mill has been in Robinson’s family since the 1850s. He said one of the elements in the project will be a museum capturing the mill’s history. He hopes to also maintain the mill fabric store on King Street.

The mill owners, besides Robinson are his grandmother, Elizabeth Robinson; his father, Joseph; his sister, Merilee Grubb; his uncle George; and the Goodwin family, including his great-aunt Eleanor Goodwin, Stuart Goodwin and Alice Goodwin.

“My job is primarily to coordinate the redevelopment of the mill,” he said.

The first official step of development is to bring the plan before the Planning Board for approval.

Town Manager Michael Chammings and Selectmen Floyd Thayer, Scott Owens and Dennis Sanborn seemed to approve of Robinson’s idea.

“It’s looking like a very nice plan,” Thayer said.

One resident was concerned that it would bring more seasonal residents in.

Robinson said he is not a real estate agent, but assured him that it was being designed with year-round residents in mind.

Chammings said something needs to be done with that property.

“It looks great,” he said after the meeting. “We’ve been looking at (developing it) for two and a half years.”

Staff Editor Mary Delamater contributed to this report.


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