OXFORD — Selectmen approved bids Thursday night for a plow truck and a high-pressure washer to clean sewer pipes, and gave conditional approval of a bid for a wheel loader.

They rejected a $98,757 bid from Maine Highlands Contracting to finish construction of a building that was to be a restroom at Pottle Field off Pottle Road and make it handicap accessible. The decision came after Town Manager Adam Garland said the town could rent a portable handicap toilet for 45 years for that price.

After the bid for the Pottle Field restroom building was rejected, Garland said Highway Department employees will get the building closed in and secured.

The Highway Department got approval to purchase a new three-quarter ton 4-by-4 pickup quad cab with plow, replacing the half-ton, two-wheel-drive truck that failed inspection and was taken off the road. Selectmen approved the $47,500 bid from Ripley & Fletcher Ford of Paris. The dealer said it could take up to 280 days for delivery, given the worldwide computer chip shortages.

The high-pressure washer to clean sewer pipes, also called a jetter is being purchased from Amazing Machinery in Cleveland, Tennessee, for its bid of $40,032.

The wheel loader would replace the 20-year-old machine used at the Transfer Station. Milton Cat of Scarborough bid $119,400 and offered $22,500 in trade for the old loader. It also offered several financing options. Selectmen approved the bid on the condition that Town Manager Adam Garland can obtain interest-free financing for five years. If the financing is not interest-free, Garland will report at the next board meeting and selectmen will consider whether to purchase the loader outright. Other bids ranged from $123,892 from Whited in Auburn to $144,300 from FMS Equipment in Madison.

In other business, Brent Bridges of Woodard & Curran engineering consultants of Portland updated the board on plans for building a drying bed facility to process sludge from the town’s wastewater treatment plant. The sludge contains PFAs,  which are man-made chemicals used in a variety of industries, don’t break down and can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAs can lead to adverse human health effects.

Until 2019, Oxford produced and sold its sludge to Lewiston. With federal and state regulations no longer allowing it due to unsafe levels of PFAs, also known as “forever chemicals,” Oxford has had to store it.

It has three years’ worth and Sewer Department Superintendent Zhenya Shevchenko said it will take about a year to completely dry and dispose of the stockpile. After that, other communities such as neighboring Mechanic Falls have expressed an interest in contracting with Oxford to process its sludge.

The drying facility, much like a greenhouse, will be built in the town industrial park on Park Road off Roller Rink Road. Utilities will be installed, the lot will be paved and a storage building constructed.

The project had already been approved but selectmen asked Bridges to estimate how much it would be to add water and sewer services to the entire park to make other lots more saleable. Bridges said adding sewer service would cost about $300,000. He advised taking no action on water until the town has a better idea of what potential businesses might need for service.

In another matter, Garland and Fire Chief Paul Hewey told the board that scheduling part-time staff for emergency medical staff is becoming so difficult that one day Hewey had to coordinate mutual aid coverage with Poland. After checking around, Hewey found that neighboring towns have increased their part-time pay. He and Garland are combing through the public safety finances to see if they can increase wages without going over the budget.

Selectman Dana Dillingham said he had questions about the situation but would contact Garland later.

After Garland updated the board about the Town Office that’s for sale, selectmen agreed they preferred to assign a price to it rather than entertaining offers. They directed Garland to have the assessed property value of $800,000 added to the listing.

The 1.2 acre property was listed by broker Patrick Casalinova of The Fletcher Group in Portland on July 16. The two-story building was constructed about 1900 and served as the high school for decades. The town acquired it in 1998 and converted it to municipal offices.

With voters rejecting a proposal this year that would have moved Oxford’s administrative employees from the mildewed and deteriorating building at 85 Pleasant St. to temporary space at Oxford Plaza, selectmen were left to once again attempt to patch up unsafe conditions with cleaning and mold remediation. SERVPRO was hired for a fourth round of remediation and cleaning.

Voters at the annual Town Meeting on June 5 authorized selectmen to sell the property.

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