Ten to study municipal needs

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Selectman Caldwell Jackson told fellow board members on November 15 that he agrees with Town Manager Butch Asselin's decision not to appoint a non-resident to the Ad Hoc Municipal Buildings Committee.
Selectwoman Samantha Hewey argues that a nonresident, local businessman should have been added to the membership of the Municipal Builings Ad Hoc Committee.

OXFORD — Ten residents have been appointed to an Ad Hoc Facilities Committee to study the current state and adequacy of municipal buildings, including the Town Office, which this week sustained flooding of at least 25,000 gallons of water in the lower level gymnasium from heavyrains.

Asselin reported to the board at its November 15 meeting that approximately 2 inches of water was discovered on the gymnasium floor on November 13 when town workers returned work after the long Veterans Day holiday weekend.

Asselin said the sump pump in the elevator shaft and the sump hole in the basement by the gym were unable to cope with the volume of water due to recent heavy rains.

“The fire, highway and sewer department responded and were able to place a sump pump in the hole and pump the water into the pump station in front of the building,” he said. An estimated 25,000 gallons of water was pumped into the sewer system and been put into the sewer system within hours of the discovery.

Asselin told the board that the floor has been squeegeed and Service Master placed four dehumidifiers and two air scrubbers in the gym. The Town Office is built on an aquifer and Asselin has said the water problem is one that probably will continue because of the building location.

The town’s insurance company has told Asselin that the town is covered for the damage under its policy. The town has a $1,000 deductible and a $50,000 limit to cover the damage. The town manager will be meeting with an insurance adjuster to review what else needs to be done to make the area safe.

Asselin said the water could have been there as long as two weeks before it was discovered. “We are checking the drain pipe in the sump hole to see if there is any blockage or a break to prevent this from re-occurring,” he said.

The area had been put off limits recently due to air quaility, mold and other moisture-related issues.

The damage is just some of the ongoing problems at the Town Office that has pushed the board to create an Ad Hoc Facilities Committee committee at the recommendation of Asselin. The recommendation to review the conditions and decide on the future of all municipal buildings was made after concern arose about the mold, moisture and other problems in the current Town Office.

Selectmen approved Asselin’s recommendation for resident members at the November 15 meeting, but not without some heated exchange between two board members over the decision to deny membership to a non-resident, local business owner.

In the unanimous decision, Peter Laverdiere, Lois Pike, Dana Dillingham, Betty Wuori, Sharon Jackson, James Bowden, David Green, James Delamater, Peter Cushman, and Ronald Kugell were appointed to the committee, but not without comment between Selectwoman Samantha Hewey and Selectman Caldwell Jackson on whether a non-resident, who applied to be a member, should have been denied because of his residency.

Selectmen Scott Hunter and Floyd Thayer will serve on the committee along with Asselin who will act as a non-voting member.

Hewey, who had asked to be put on the committee, argued the applicant was a valuable member of the business community who could make an important contribution to the committee’s work and questioned why the appointments were not made during the November 1 meeting as initially planned.

Jackson, who asked for the delay because he could not be at that meeting, said the businessman is welcome to attend the meetings and he believed Asselin made the right decision in denying him voting privileges because of his non residency.

The Ad Hoc Committee will make a recommendation about the future of the town buildings. If a new town office is recommended, for example, it will have to be bonded and will require a town meeting or referendum vote. The report is not expected to be ready for annual town meeting or election next June.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net