OXFORD — The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted at its March 21 meeting not to impose fees for teams using the Pottle Road Field to help offset maintenance costs to the town.

Acting on a motion by Selectman Caldwell Jackson and seconded by Scott Hunter, the board turned down a recommendation by Recreation Director Patti Hess to charge a fee for the lacrosse team to use the field. The fee would have been assessed to soccer team as well.

Although the board had not voted to set a specific fee amount, Hess and Town Manager Butch Asselin said they had discussed a fee about about $20 per child, per season.

While the idea goes back at least two years when former Selectmen Chairman Scott Owens approached Asselin about fee setting, Hess told the board that when she became director in December, 2018, it became evident that it seemed “ a lot of expense” was being paid to maintain the fields and thought a fee might help offset those costs.

The town pays $4,000 to maintain the American Legion field and $8,000 for the maintenance of the Pottle Road field.

The soccer and lacrosse teams use both fields.

Mike Marshall of the Oxford Hills Athletic Boosters, which offers soccer, basketball, cheering, football, wrestling, and lacrosse youth sports programs for Oxford Hills students, told the board the fee would “cripple” the programs, which, he noted, bring in teams from other towns who utilize town businesses.

“The question is does Oxford not want this business,” he asked the board.

The Boosters, Marshall said, pay for a number of items such as the porta potties, the benches, equipment, scholarships and more that enable some 400 youngsters to play soccer and another 122 play lacrosse.

They are not supported by the school or town budgets and exist through community support. Each child pays a registration fee to participate. That money goes back into the items the Boosters donate for the programs and the field use fee would have been added on top of the registration.

SAD 17 school district only offers “gym” for students up to grade 7 so this is the only opportunity for children to play on recreational teams, said Marshall.

Jackson said the maintenance of the fields has always been paid for by the town and if taxpayers want to discontinue that, they can vote down the budget request at town meeting.

“Whether they (the teams played) play or not we would still be there,“ said Jackson referring to the town’s upkeep of the field.

In other business, selectmen agreed to spend $184,68 for a new highway plow and plow truck equipment. Asselin said $100,000 of that amount will come from the existing funds in the Capital Account and town meeting voters will have to agree to raise and appropriate the remaining $84,000 through a warrant article in June.

The board appointed Tanya Owens to the Budget Committee, approved a Mass Gathering permit for the Oxford 250 and the regular season of the Oxford Speedway and accepted donations that totaled $6,200 from town and area residents, officials and local businesses to help offset the funeral costs for Chief Gary Sacco who died two weeks ago.

Asselin thanked those involved in the funeral for the numerous food donations and said the leftovers were given to local churches and organizations.

A job notice will be posted next week advertising for a new chief.

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