OXFORD — Selectmen voted 4-1 Thursday night to approve a $258,000 bid to design a municipal building and asked the town manager to look into setting up a temporary office building on King Street.

The offer from Harriman architects in Auburn was the only one received in the latest round of bids. The firm will manage the project once construction begins.

Selectman Dana Dillingham voted against the bid, saying it was a lot of money with no other offers to compare.

Oxford selectmen approved an architectural firm’s bid Thursday night to design a town office building to replace the Municipal Center on Pleasant Street. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

Town Manager Adam Garland acknowledged that but reminded the board that no other firms were interested in the project.

Calls for proposals were advertised for 30 days with the Maine Municipal Association, on Oxford’s Facebook page and in the newspaper.

Garland also reached out to other firms he has worked with and invited the few that submitted bids previously but none responded.

He advised selectmen that with Thursday’s vote it’s necessary to make a decision on what to do with the Municipal Center at 85 Pleasant St., which has been on the market since August 2021.

Research into finding another space for town offices began three years ago after mold was discovered in the basement of the former schoolhouse. The building has undergone attempts at remediation and sanitization at least three times in recent years but conditions have continued to worsen.

The two-story wood structure was built about 1900 and served as a school for decades. The town acquired it in 1998 and converted it to its municipal offices.

Voters have been presented with several options the past few years: renovating the building, renting other space and building another. Last summer they decided to sell it.

On Thursday, Garland presented an option to raze the former police station on King Street, rent a manufactured office building and set it there next to the Recreation Center. The site has a concrete pad and utilities.

Garland said he found a 28- by 56-foot building similar to portable classrooms that would cost $15,000  delivered and set up. Rent would be $1,500 for six months; a lease of 18 to 24 months would cost $1,090 a month. The building has enough offices and room for cubicles to accommodate the entire staff. Public meetings would be held at the Recreation Center next door.

Vice Chairwoman Sharon Jackson and Dillingham wanted Garland to find out if the building is still available before making a commitment.

Dillingham said he did not think it could be set up for $15,000 and wanted to see a total estimate first.

Selectman Scott Hunter urged board members to authorize Garland to move forward with temporary quarters, contingent on the manufactured building still being available.

Sharon Jackson agreed, saying Garland should proceed, pending selectmen’s final approval.

Garland said he would, with a Jan. 20 approval deadline.

During the public comment period, resident Peter Laverdiere asked if Oxford had plans to resurrect the Thompson Lake dam committee. He said a Poland selectman called him for information as that town prepares its 2022 budget.

Officials from Poland, Otisfield and Casco, which also border the lake, agreed several years ago to each pay Oxford $5,000 a year for dam maintenance.

Selectman Floyd Thayer, who was not on the board at the time Oxford dissolved the committee, asked for background on the issue.

Chairman Caldwell Jackson told him the other towns did not like the direction Oxford took to rehabilitate the dam, which is incrementally rather than a complete replacement or rebuild all at once.

Sharon Jackson added that the other towns wanted ownership and decision-making powers, which Oxford isn’t willing to consider.

Most of the board were under the impression that Poland had not kept up with their financial commitment for dam maintenance. Laverdiere requested that they review their records to be sure, which Garland agreed to do.

On Friday, Garland confirmed that Poland had made its annual payments and released the following statement:

“On behalf of the Town of Oxford Selectmen, I apologize to our neighbors and partners in the Town of Poland for the misunderstanding regarding the Town of Poland’s annual contributions to the Thompson Lake Dam Maintenance Fund. At the 01/06/2022 Town of Oxford Selectmen’s meeting it was stated that the Town of Poland had failed to make its annual contribution to the Thompson Lake Dam Maintenance Fund. Regrettably this statement was made in error.

“Upon reviewing our records, the Town of Poland has in fact been making its annual contributions to the dam maintenance fund in the amount of $5,000 annually,” Garland wrote. “Again, I want to extend our apologies for this misunderstanding and thank the Town of Poland for their continued support and contributions to the Thompson Lake Dam Maintenance Fund.”

In other businessThursday, selectmen approved the appointment of Dana Dean to the Recreation Committee. Garland said the committee has no more vacancies.

Selectmen also approved advertising the Highway Department’s 2006 Ford F-150 for sale through sealed bids. The highest bid will be approved at the Feb. 3 meeting.


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