OXFORD — Although the rehabilitation of Thompson Dam has been budgeted, approved and will move forward this year, discussion on dam management  going forward dominated the July 2 Oxford Selectmen’s meeting. Town manager Butch Asselin informed the group that he has reached out to the towns with property around the lake, Poland, Otisfield and Casco, about meeting with him.

Asselin advised the Board that the Thompson Lake Dam Advisory Committee will meet on Jul. 16 at 2 p.m. at the Oxford Town Office. He said that members of the committee from other towns have met independently and unofficially and that inaccurate information about Oxford’s planned repairs and budgeting for rehabilitation has been circulating through the communities.

Selectmen agreed that committee bylaws need to be reestablished to make sure the committee operates as an advisory unit, that it is not authorized to make decisions about managing the dam and that Oxford’s Town Manager will continue to chair the committee.

A discharge channel at the Thompson Lake dam. Repairs to the dam could be as much as $521,000. Submitted photo

“I am concerned about the actions of the committee,” said Selectman Sharon Jackson. “They have led members of the Thompson Lake Environmental Association assume that Oxford is not doing anything about repairs. They have encouraged landowners on the lake to speak against the project on the Thompson Lake Facebook page and implied that Oxford has buried the funds to pay for it.”

“The Oxford Town Manager is the head of the committee,” reiterated Select Vice-Chair Samantha Hewey. “It is not appropriate if they are meeting apart from him.”

Asselin acknowledged that there is frustration on both sides.

“Oxford’s best interests are different than the other towns,” he said. “There are people that want a new dam but we have to weigh that with our own needs. I agree that Oxford Selectmen should create bylaws that the committee needs to follow.”

“Bylaws need to include meeting rules,” added Selectman Dana Dillingham. “If the bylaws are not followed we have the right to dissolve the committee.”

Select Board Chair Scott Hunter said ther

 

e is concern in other towns about contributing to the cost of repairs if ownership lies solely with Oxford and that they are not opposed to cost-sharing but want to know a clear plan for it.

Asselin took issue with that perspective, pointing out that when a report from MBP Consulting was distributed that some residents wanted to have a second analysis done, in effect dismissing the plan Oxford contracted.

Selectmen voted to set bylaws and confirmed that the advisory committee would consist of two representatives from each town, including one selectman. Oxford’s town manager will continue to act as a non-voting chairperson, except in instances where tie-breaker votes on committee actions is required.

In other matters, Codes Enforcement Officer Joelle Corey-Whitman addressed the Board about continuing issues with one of the mobile home parks in Oxford. A 1972 trailer was moved into the park without permit.

“A 1972 trailer was put in the park that is only allowed 1976 homes and newer,” Corey-Whitman said. “The new owner needs to have an electrical inspection before I can issue an occupancy permit. But it could fail inspection.”

Corey-Whitman said it is the only park in Oxford that has ongoing issues with mobile homes being brought in or removed illegally. While she said that the park manager claims he can only manage activity that he sees, selectmen agreed that that the person in charge needs to bear responsibility for violations as well as the movers who know what proper documentation is required.

Selectmen approved the formation of an historic preservation committee and appointed Trish Larrivee, Heather Langelier and John Crumpton, Jr. of the Oxford Historical Society, residents Kathleen Dillingham and Henry Jackson and Oxford Recreation Director Patty Hesse as its members.

Larrivee said that the committee will focus on raising money to restore town landmarks and to identify at-risk buildings of historical importance.

Asselin reported that Oxford’s 2019-2020 fiscal year has closed at $248,375 under budget. The unspent funds will be deposited into the town’s general fund.

 


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