OXFORD — Selectmen voted to set the annual town meeting date for July 11. Even though social distancing restrictions on public gatherings of 50 or more people may still be in effect, Town Clerk Elizabeth Olsen was directed to hold that date and plan to accommodate a larger crowd. The meeting will be held at Oxford Elementary School and options include using multiple rooms or a tent outside the gymnasium or cafeteria.

Selectmen approved Oxford Casino Hotel’s liquor license application. They also agreed to send a letter on the casino’s behalf to Governor Janet Mills to urge reopening the casino. The casino’s closure is costing the town $37,000 – $40,000 a week in revenue.

Selectmen approved a bid from Bancroft Contacting Corporation not to exceed $521,350 for rehabilitation of the Thompson Lake dam. Myron Petrovsky of MBP Consulting, who has inspected the dam and provided the town with recommendations on how repairs, addressed the Board. Petrovsky will work with Bancroft to find ways to save up to $100,000 on the project without compromising performance and quality.  The center fish screen may be eliminated and Petrovsky will review other options.

Petrovsky urged the Board to consider what other towns with frontage around the lake – Otisfield, Poland and Casco – should contribute to the project. Currently an agreement calls for each town to provide $5,000 for maintenance but Oxford does not consistently collect all the fees from year to year.

Vice Chair Samantha Hewey and Selectman Sharon Jackson urged that letters be sent to the other towns updating them on plans  and costs for repairs. Town Manager Butch Asselin said other communities, Otisfield in particular, want to see the dam replaced and also want an ownership stake if expected to contribute funds for extensive work.

Selectmen discussed much needed repairs for the historic Meeting House and disagreed on the value of the building to the town. The building is in poor condition and requires window repair, roofing and siding replacement and mold remediation. Estimates for repair are about $50,000. Sharon Jackson and Hewey asked if the town should retain it at all, as it has no restrooms or heat and is not currently used. Chair Scott Hunter and Selectman Caldwell Jackson said the Meeting House, which was built in 1830 and is on the National Register of Historic Places, holds significant value.

“No bathroom is no excuse to get rid of it,” said Caldwell Jackson.

Recreation Director Patty Hesse suggested looking at seasonal uses for town activities and possibly leasing to local theater or other cultural/arts groups.

The entry way to office space at Oxford Plaza. The town is considering the space for future municipal offices. Supplied photo

Asselin and Town Clerk Elizabeth Olsen updated the Board about an option to replace the town office, the former SAD 17 administrative offices at Oxford Plaza. It is located between Label Shopper and Daddy O’s.

“The space contains nine offices,” said Olsen. “There is a large center area that appears to be large enough to hold elections, we will be doing additional measuring to make sure. There is plenty of meeting space and room for expansion if necessary.

“Parking is not limited. Plowing and business maintenance would be provided by the lessor. And all areas are compliant with Americans with Disabilities laws.”

Oxford Facilities Committee is in the process of reviewing the future of Oxford’s administrative offices. Options include building a new office or doing repairs and upgrades to the current Pleasant Street building.

The available space at Oxford Plaza is enough to accommodate municipal elections and town meetings. Supplied photo

In other business, Selectmen voted to use fees collected from cable utilities to expand access to under served areas, and set June 30 as the deadline for resident to register vehicles exempted by the COVID-19 civil emergency, which is expiring.

They signed a letter of thanks to resident Lori Turgeon for her services to the town and reappointed Peter Laverdiere to the Board of Appeals for a three-year term.

Comments are not available on this story.