OXFORD — Should the town consider building a new Town Office?

Selectmen are reviewing their options, as the bills continue to grow for problems, such as poor air quality, mold and mildew that continue to plague the Town Office that sits on an aquifer.

Nothing will get cheaper,” said Selectwoman Samantha Hewey at a recent board meeting.

Town Manager Butch Asselin told the board at its October 4 meeting that if the town were to bond the cost of a new town office at $1.4 million, it would cost $97,447 annually over 20 years,  plus $548,972 in total interest. On a 30-year note, it would cost $77,287 annually with a total of $918,605 paid in interest.

Because the current site will never improve in terms of moisture, officials have looked at other town-owned land as possible buildable sites.

There are 5.3 acres at the Oxford Public Safety Building on Route 26. Most of it is wet, Asselin said. There may be an acre or so that is buildable. “Unless the wetland is moved, it would be a tight fit.” he said.

While there is no definite plan to do so, Asselin said voters would have to approve a bond to construct a new building.

Building costs

Asselin, who has suggested that a committee be formed to look at the possible relocation of the Town Office, said an eight year review of Town Office repairs and maintenance show $193,495. has been spent.

Last year building maintenance costs increased about $3,500 from $5,320 in 2017 to $8,857 in 2018.

The furnace and boiler costs increased significantly from $1,264 in 2017 to $4,004 in 2018.

Fuel costs have decreased from $12,100 in 2012 to $9,845 in 2019. Other costs have remained relatively stable.

Building maintenance costs amounted to $24,187 which included maintenance, fuel etc,. For a total of $193,495.

An indoor air quality and mold assessment at the Oxford Town Office released last month shows some areas have unacceptable levels of mold and poor air quality, particularly in the lower level of the building.

The limited assessment was conducted by Air Quality Management Services, Inc. of Lewiston on the building assessed air quality and mold concerns.

Oxford officials requested the assessment following reported air quality concerns in the building after some occupants reported health symptoms and musty odors in the lower level.

The problems in the building located at 85 Pleasant Street have been ongoing for years, but Asselin said its difficult to eliminate water when the building is sited on an aquifer.

While employees were not told to avoid the lower building area, but it was recommended they restrict the time employees spend in the basement floor.

The company provided a list of remedial recommendations to address the issues that Asselin has said will be expensive.

Hewey said she was concerned about the amount of time it would take for the mildew and mold to “creep” up to the other floors in the building.

Asselin said it has been recommended that two industrial sized dehumidifiers be placed in the gym since the bulk of the problem is in the basement floor.

There are other issues here,” he said. They include dust in the heater registers that can contain allergens. “We need to take a serious look at the manner in which this place is cleaned,” he said. Presently the building is cleaned once a week for six hours.

We will always have moisture in the elevator shaft,” he said.

There is a small maintenance office in the basement and there are paper records located there.

Officials say they are worried about the continuing costs of maintaining the current Town Office.

Whatever you pour into this building we won’t get back out of it,” said Selectman Scott Hunter.

Our costs are only going to get higher,” said Asselin.

If a new Town Office is built in the future, Hewey said, “Build it right and build it smart.”

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