OXFORD — “About a million potholes. We’re in the running for the most potholes in a town,” quipped Oxford’s Highway Department Foreman Jim Bennett to the board of selectmen during their Thursday night meeting. But Bennett was there to discuss fixing two specific roads, not the others riddling the town with potholes from one end to the other.

“You’ve noticed, we’ve been trying to do something up there on Whittemore and Number Six,” Bennett continued. “Outside of rebuilding the whole thing, what do you do? We’ve cold-patched, cold-patched and cold-patched and within three days it just pounds out.”

The condition of the roads has damaged residents’ vehicles, leading to complaints to Town Manager Adam Garland.

Garland and Bennett agreed the highway department should go a different route and put down hot top with a compaction roller to fix whole sections of the roads rather than filling each individual hole by hand. So far this season, just on those roads, Bennett said he has spent more than $1,700 on cold patch.

One of several sections of Number Six Road in Oxford that is crumbling and will be repaired with hot top. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

The cost of hot top is $76 a ton while cold patch is up around $140 a ton. Bennett estimated repairs to both roads with hot top would be less than $10,000.

“Three years ago we did this over on East Oxford Road by the quarry,” Bennett said. “And it’s still there. I hope this will solve the problem — put a band-aid on it so to speak — until we can rebuild.”

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“This (project) falls outside of maintenance,” Garland explained to selectmen. “We just don’t have the money right now. We’re asking the board to authorize us to use some money from the highway reserve account, which has $17,000 in it currently, to make these repairs.”

Selectmen approved using up to $10,000 from the highway reserve account to repair Whittemore and Number Six roads.

Garland shared with selectmen bids to repair King Street sidewalks. He received four, ranging in cost from $136,776 to $218,975. He said Rob Prue, the road engineer who works with Oxford, recommended going with the lowest bidder, Bedard Excavation of South Paris, which was approved unanimously.

Garland also told the board that a recent inspection at the wastewater plant revealed that a handful of tank membranes needed to be replaced, at a cost of $8,207. Selectmen approved the expense with no discussion.

In other business, Garland presented a $14,100 bid to repair the concrete retaining wall at the transfer station, $6,600 more than selectmen had previously approved from the town’s fund balance.

Selectmen questioned if the wall, which is used as a loading dock, needed to be repaired and if loading could be done in a different area at the transfer station. Garland replied that Transfer Station Manager Ed Knightly already plans to review that with an agent from Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

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“This is quite a bit more than our original estimate,” Garland said. “Does the board want to put it back out to bid? Figure a longer time frame or wait on the work? Or move forward with this price?”

Selectmen unanimously voted to hold off on the project and rejected the bid.

Fire and Rescue Chief Paul Hewey addressed the board about the need to replace the fire department’s 30-year-old ladder truck, a topic going back two years to when Hewey applied for an Assistance to Firefighters Grant for that purpose. When the grant was not approved Hewey was directed to look for a used truck.

Oxford’s current truck has a 95-foot ladder, necessary because of the building heights of Oxford Casino and Hampton Inn, but a used adequate replacement has been difficult to find.

Northeast Apparatus stated that Oxford’s ladder truck is too old to be used as its primary truck, Hewey said. Parts to repair the truck’s water pump are no longer available, meaning that it is not fully functional for fighting fires.

“We had put a ladder truck on next year’s budget as a capital equipment item,” Garland told the board. “Chief Hewey has found a 2013 ladder truck for $1.8 million.”

Hewey proposed that Oxford purchase that truck, which would require holding a special town meeting for voter approval and financing. A used truck would provide at least 10 years of service to allow the town to budget and save for a new one in the future. A new truck with ladder long enough currently runs around $8 million.

Vice Chair Sharon Jackson asked Garland to provide more information on how a loan for the used truck would be structured with payments, length and interest rates. Selectman Dana Dillingham suggested that Oxford also approach neighboring towns about possibly sharing a ladder truck, which Garland agreed to do.

“It’s time to check with other towns,” Dillingham said. “God forbid, if there’s a fire at the casino. There’s going to be fire trucks coming from every direction. The more you get there the faster and the better. But this kind of money, let’s face it. The town hasn’t planned for the last 10 years to replace a ladder truck at $1.7 million. That’s the kind of money you need to be putting aside every year to replace it.”


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