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

OXFORD – At last week’s meeting, Oxford selectmen agreed to scrap the three bids submitted for building a new town office and considered an interim move for municipal staff later this year.

None of the proposals matched the requirements of the RFP that town officials had drawn up. Two of the design/build submissions were for a 6,100-6,200 square foot building and the third only consisted of the design and site evaluations but no construction bid.

The RFP specified that the proposals be for design/build and that the new office be 5,500 square feet.

“The design/build for a new town office is still on the table for consideration,” said Town Manager Butch Asselin in an email statement.

Nancy Cushman of Speedway, Inc. appeared before selectmen to talk about the options available for leasing the old SAD 17 administrative offices at Oxford Plaza. Last year officials considered moving to the shopping center before the building committee recommended new construction next to Oxford Public Safety instead. The space is approximately 6,000 square feet.

Cushman told the board that the space is currently occupied but that the tenant is amenable to being moved if the town decides to relocate there. She said they would have to build out a new area for the tenant and make adjustments for the town’s needs, including installing a vault.

“The selectmen want to budget/plan for the construction of a new town office during the term of the lease, if the lease is approved [at annual town meeting],” Asselin wrote.

If voters approve the lease, Speedway, Inc. would be informed within two days and begin the renovation process. Town meeting is tentatively scheduled for Jun. 4; the space would be ready for occupation by Nov. 1.

The lease agreement would be for five years and the first six month would be’ rent free. For the next 30 months the price per square foot would be $12.50. It would increase to $12.75 for the last two years.

Cushman advised that the HVAC system for the space will be replaced. She said tenants can contract with Irving to pay for heat at Speedway Inc.’s bulk price, but are free to negotiate their own rates if they prefer.

There is also room available at Oxford Plaza to accommodate the Helping Hands Food Pantry if that group chooses to move with the administration. Currently the food pantry pays $900 a year to Oxford for the space it occupies at town office on Pleasant Street. Helping Hands’ board president Karen Miller was not available for comment.

The current town office is expensive to heat and faces ongoing maintenance and repair issues. Asselin said the moisture problems in the basement are such that no one is allowed access to it except for maintenance. When the elevator is used mold and mildew in the shaft spreads through the building.

“From May through July the sump pump located in the cistern at the bottom of the stairs (gym floor) seems like it operating continuously,” wrote Asselin. “A commercial sized dehumidifier runs year round in the gymnasium. Occasionally water still seeps up through the basement floor.”

If voters approve the lease at Oxford Plaza, selectmen will consider future uses for the old town office. Officials are looking for a developer willing to take advantage of historic tax credits, if the building qualifies, and create apartment units.  As a further incentive to developers, selectmen will also give consideration to creating or amending an existing Tax Increment Financial District to include the town office, Asselin said.

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