OXFORD — Selectmen have authorized Recreation Director Kayla Laird to create a plan for a summer recreation program based at Pismo Beach on Thompson Lake.

Laird presented options to start a summer camp in Oxford, a program town officials have considered for years but have never taken any action. She estimated startup costs will be around $63,000 and if the program attracts enough campers revenue would exceed $90,000. The expense would include buying an event tent, a one-time purchase. Revenue estimates are based on a total of 100 enrollees.

The program will run for eight weeks, starting a week after the end of the school year. The cost for Oxford residents will be $75 per week: for nonresidents, $150.

The location would shift from Pismo Beach, where there are playing fields and a snack shack, in good weather to the Station House Community Center on King Street on rainy days.

Oxford selectmen authorized Recreation Director Kayla Laird to start working on a plan to introduce a kids’ summer rec. program at Pismo Beach. Submitted photo

Laird said programming will include field trips, outdoor games and activities, and special guests. She said swim lessons will be available for an extra fee, if she is able to hire an instructor.

Selectmen supported the proposal but requested a more detailed plan, including how she would work around established groups that already use the recreation center during the week, such as Nickel Bingo and Stitch Group. They also asked to have alternative staffing and financial projections prepared for lower enrollment scenarios.

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Laird previously worked as Harrison’s recreation director for six years, where she also oversaw a popular summer rec program at Crystal Lake.

“We are in the early stages of planning out all of the details,” Laird said Friday. “We currently are getting our online registration program up and running so with that being said, we will be taking your kiddos’ information for registration via email or in person at the Rec Center. There is no payment required at this time.”

Families interested in enrolling their children should email Laird at [email protected] to reserve spots and include their child’s name, age, and if their children reside in Oxford or another community.

Laird also requested that selectmen authorize kitchen equipment and other upgrades for the snack shack at Pismo Beach. Selectmen approved buying a refrigerator and a freezer.

During public comment, resident William Penfold voiced his disapproval how a 12-acre parcel taken for unpaid taxes was sold by the town.

The sale was conducted using the guidance from state law, which allows for properties acquired for nonpayment of back taxes to be sold for fair market value instead of being auctioned.

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William Penfold, left, of Oxford tells selectmen Thursday that he asked last fall to be notified when the town was selling a tax-acquired property but learned the town sold it through a realtor, not by bids. Selectman Floyd Thayer, right, listens to the discussion. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

Penfold said he inquired about purchasing the property from the town last fall and asked to be notified when it was to be sold.

Instead of listing it at auction with public notice and submitted bids, selectmen contracted with a real estate broker who placed it on the market for $69,000 on Dec. 29, 2022. Within three days the broker received three offers and selectmen authorized accepting the highest offer.

Penfold asserted that he would have been willing to pay $30,000 more than the offer he was told was accepted.

Another resident attending the meeting had also wanted to bid on the property and learned about the sale after the fact from one of the prospective buyers whose offer was not accepted.

Selectmen instructed Town Manager Adam Garland to consult with the town’s attorney to find out if the law has flexibility on how sales can be executed when using a real estate agent instead of through auction.

The board also discussed possible changes to the town’s retail marijuana ordinance at the request of resident June Marie Mosher, who addressed the board during the Jan. 5 meeting about limiting the number of licenses issued.

Selectmen said they needed to discuss the issue further before making a decision whether to recommend a change to the ordinance. They requested that Garland provide more information for the next meeting, including how many businesses were licensed and in what cannabis category they were in, what each had paid in fees to the town and how much the businesses have paid in property taxes.

Since selectmen may decide to take no action on Mosher’s request, they advised her to start a separate petition that would allow it to proceed without their support.

Selectman Caldwell Jackson said he was in favor of not capping the number of cannabis businesses licensed to operate and see what the market could bear.


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