Tom Kennison, left, Oxford Economic Development Committee member and real estate agent listing town properties, addresses selectmen Thursday night about potential locations for a new municipal building. Seated at the table are Selectmen Floyd Thayer and Dana Dillingham. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

OXFORD — Town Manager Adam Garland told selectmen Thursday night that requests for designs for a new municipal office building were to be sent Friday to six architectural/engineering firms.

Design proposals must be submitted by noon Nov. 29 for review at the Dec. 2 selectmen meeting. A workshop will be set for the following week and the target date to award the contract for architectural and engineering services at the board’s Dec. 16 meeting.

“The first phase is for design, development and cost estimates,” Garland said. “The second phase would be construction document, which means creating the actual bid and construction documents. The third phase would be facilitating and overseeing the bid process for us. The final phase would be overseeing the construction of the building.

“One of the big things to talk about is where to put this building, potentially,” Garland said.

Selectman Dana Dillingham asked that the language about location be changed in the request for proposals from potentially at the town business park on Park Road off Roller Rink Road to to be determined because there are other sites under consideration. The rest of the board agreed.

Under consideration is the 24-acre business park, which has been surveyed into 14 lots, and the 42 acres between Schiavi Homes and Twin Town Homes on Route 26 that were deeded to the town by John Schiavi.

During an economic development workshop before the meeting, Tom Kennison of the town Economic Development Committee and the real estate agent for the business park lots cautioned that the park may not be the best place to build.

“One lot is under contract,” Kennison said. “I think putting the town office there is not the best thing for visibility. The land on Route 26 has tremendous frontage, it has visibility there. To me, that 42 acres would be the better place for a town office, and I’ve heard things like a town garage. There would be access from Skeetfield Road and 26.”

He said, “Once we get this first business (in the park) up and running it will generate a lot more interest.”

The lots in the business park have been on the market since last December. The smallest ones, which are about an acre, are listed at $35,500. The larger ones that are about two or more acres are priced at $39,900.

Kennison said Friday that three lots have been sold.

The Highway Department has been mowing and clearing brush and will start building a gravel road starting next week to improve access to the business park lots.

Garland asked selectmen to consider an official name for the park and have a sign installed to help with marketing.

As for utilities, Kennison said running power should be a priority but to hold off on water and sewer lines until they know what buyers will need for their businesses.

The 42 acres on Route 26 have not been subdivided. Kennison advised that once selectmen are ready to develop that parcel, a road be built down the center before lots are surveyed. He also suggested the town hold off on developing it until the Park Road business park sales are further underway and a decision made where on the land a municipal building might potentially be built.

The 12,420-square-foot Oxford Municipal Center at 85 Pleasant St. was constructed about 1900 and served as Oxford’s school for decades. The town acquired it in 1998 and converted it to municipal offices.

For years, it’s been plagued with problems, including mold and mildew, and at least three attempts in recent years to remove hazardous material and sanitize areas have failed to fix the problems.

Voters at the annual town meeting in June rejected a proposal to move the administrative offices to temporary space at Oxford Plaza and instead voted to sell the building.

The 1.2 acre property is listed by Patrick Casalinova of The Fletcher Group in Portland.

In other business Thursday, selectmen unanimously voted to not set a policy for remote meetings.

Garland presented a draft for the second reading but the board decided to table it based on the current pandemic situation. They agreed elected officials have a responsibility to meet in person and can conduct business at meetings with at least three of the five selectmen present.

The Oxford Municipal Center at 85 Pleasant St. is for sale. Selectmen are soliciting proposals for designing a new building. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

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