OXFORD — After spending two years pursuing a plan for disposing of sewer waste that can no longer be used as commercial fertilizer, Oxford may have a solution as simple as shipping its sludge out by truck.

Back in 2019, Oxford selectmen approved hiring Woodard & Curran out of Portland to conduct a study on alternatives to handle waste containing PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals.” Since then, the town has moved toward a process of drying the sludge in a greenhouse-like facility. The chemicals would be eliminated as the waste dries and the compressed “cakes” could then be disposed of in landfills. Construction of the facility was estimated to cost close to $1 million, although grants available through the Maine Department of Environmental Protection would have decreased the expense.

Four construction companies put in bids to build a four-season road in and run utilities to Oxford’s business park, as well as build the dewatering facility. The bid amounts range from $2.3 million to $3.1 million. Woodard & Curran is reviewing the proposals and is expected to recommend which of the construction contractors’ proposals and bids would best serve the town.

At Thursday night’s selectmen’s meeting, however, Sewer Department Superintendent Zhenya Shevchenko told the board that the Anson-Madison Sanitation District recently approached him to propose taking Oxford’s waste to their facility, a former paper mills plant already set up with a dewatering equipment and disposing of the cakes at the landfill they own.

The price for Anson-Madison to handle the waste is $0.065 a pound to transport and another $0.055 to process. The cost to ship the 47,000 pounds of waste that the sewer department had been storing for the last three years is around $5,600, with no responsibility to Oxford.

Selectmen asked Shevchenko to submit Anson-Madison’s proposal and contract for review alongside the recommendations from Woodard & Curran so they can make their decision at the next board meeting.

Following up discussions at the last meeting about spending American Rescue Plan Act funds being issued to Oxford, Town Manager Adam Garland asked selectmen to authorize him how to allocate the money.

Selectmen unanimously approved using a portion of the funds to increase broadband to underserved areas of town. The rest of the money will be applied to municipal revenue losses because of the pandemic.

The board would have the option of tapping into the recovered revenue accounts to help pay for other projects. Improvements to Whittemore Road, which is part of the town’s five-year road plan, are a high priority and could be able to start sooner.

In other business, Dan Dubois of the Oxford Rock-O-Dundee Riders Snowmobile Club was asked by selectmen about altering the trail that currently goes through the new business park under development. Dubois’ concern is that as lots in the development are sold the trail, which runs from Lebanon, Maine, to Quebec, will be disrupted.

Selectman are considering a permanent easement through the business park along the access road that is being built and continuing the trail along lot boundaries. No final decision was made.

Tim Mosher was unanimously appointed to the Oxford Planning Board, reestablishing a quorum so it is able to conduct business.

In his town manager’s report, Garland thanked town staff who stepped up to help during a COVID-related staffing shortage in late October and early November, including on Election Day. Garland also said he appreciates townspeople’s understanding and patience while the town office was open for business fewer hours than normal.

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