Oxford hopes to relocate its municipal offices to this building at 127 Pottle Road instead of building new, a move that could save taxpayers as much as $2 million. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

OXFORD — Assuming approval at the annual town meeting next month, the solution to replace the unsafe and debilitated municipal office building at 85 Pleasant St. will not require construction and could save taxpayers as much as $2 million.

Town Manager Adam Garland has negotiated with Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway to purchase its recently vacated office space at 127 Pottle Road for $750,000.

Moving offices from the former Oxford High School and Oxford Elementary School has been a hot and at times contentious topic for at least 15 years. More recently, the town’s Facilities Committee recommended after a two-year study that a new building be erected at, or an addition built onto, the Public Safety Building on state Route 26.

Twice voters rejected proposals to rent temporary office space, first at a special town meeting in March of last year and then at Oxford’s annual town meeting last June.

The message was clear that townspeople wanted a permanent solution, even though a list of problems — water constantly leaking into the basement, the spread of black mold throughout the building, an unreliable elevator, unsafe stairwells and a heating system that regularly required repairs — made the building an unsafe work environment for employees.

The idea to consider the Pottle Road site originated in March when a resident suggested it to Garland. The 6,500-square-foot building was not listed for sale but Garland called SMH officials to determine if it could be available. After ongoing discussions and walk-throughs by selectmen, Garland was authorized to make an offer in April, which the hospital accepted Thursday morning.


“The space at 127 Pottle Road is almost move-in ready,” Garland said at Thursday night’s selectmen meeting. “We are working through our due diligence and financing now. By the time we hold town meeting, if this is approved, we will be ready to close two weeks later.”

He said the whirlwind negotiation is a best-case scenario that will make it possible to avoid the drawn-out process of designing and building, not to mention the substantial savings for taxpayers.

Last summer selectmen rejected three bids ranging from $1.7 to $2.8 million to construct an office building, and since then construction costs have only increased.

Some renovations will need to be done, including a conference room large enough for board and committee meetings. Garland said the offices are move-in ready, everything is on one floor and completely compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. He said there is plenty of archive and storage space.

He believes the modifications can be completed for around $250,000, making the estimated total cost about $1 million. He expects that updates could be done and employees moved in by fall.

Since last year Oxford has reserved about $294,000 toward a future town office. Last winter it hired Harriman of Auburn to design and engineer a new headquarters at a cost of $258,000. Garland said their contract includes conditions that allow Oxford to step back from it. He is working with the architectural firm on a plan for Harriman to oversee the renovations instead of designing a new building.

Heeding the wishes of voters, 85 Pleasant St. was put up for sale last July. No viable offers have been made and it remains on the market.

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