Chair of the Oxford Board of Selectmen Jennie L. Caissie has a lot to be pleased about. The year 2011 saw a lot of accomplishments for the town, with major progress in the area of infrastructure.
First on her list was the recent $2.2 million grant from the MassWorks Infrastructure Program, which will allow the Oxford-Dudley-Webster sewer extension project to go forward. “This is real money,” she said, “With everybody scraping to get by, this is great.” The sewer connection will first serve the expansion of IPG Photonics on Old Webster Road. Town voters approved a Tax Increment Finance agreement to support the expansion plans at the fall town meeting. IPG Photonics currently employs 600 people in its Oxford headquarters.
Also high on Ms. Caissie’s progress list was a positive court decision in the planned acquisition of the Town’s water operations from Aquarion Water Company. Just last week a motion for summary judgment filed by Aquarion in Worcester Superior Court was denied. The company had sought to stop the Town from acquiring the facilities. “That decision brings the acquisition closer, it’s a big step forward,” she said, though anticipating that it will yet make its way to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. When the town eventually takes over the water operations, people should save some money on their water bills, she said. “Right now, the people have no voice in the pricing; then, we will be able to control it.” She complimented the efforts of Town Manager Joseph Zeneski and town counsel for actively moving this project along.
Next, Ms. Caissie talked about the new animal shelter, whose construction is close to completion. A planned opening this past fall was delayed pending further fund raising, but she’s sure that it will happen this year. Selectman Lamarche has done a tremendous job spearheading the project. She also addressed Facebook rumors that the shelter’s mission would be changed to become a “Kill shelter.” “Nothing could be further from the truth,”she said. “That kind of talk is a disservice to Mr. Lamarche all the people that have worked so hard support the project.”
Another completed project during the year was the renovation of the basketball court in North Oxford. And it’s being used, she said, even now. “Anytime there’s no snow, people play on it.”
Next, there were some major road improvements, including the Oxford Center Repaving Project, which encompassed a large part of Main Street and Sutton Avenue, and the Charlton Street makeover. The Department of Public Works was very busy this year, she said.
Also during the summer, DPW administration consolidated its operations and moved into a refurbished space in the old Police Station at 450 Main Street.
The town also took a foray into the world of green energy, with a solar power initiative spearheaded by Facilities Maintenance Director Dick Donais. The project would provide for solar panels on the roofs of nine school and other town buildings. The plan hit a snag when the specified panels became unavailable, but Mr. Donais hopes to bring it to completion this year.
No discussion of town matters would be complete without mention of the budget climate. Staying afloat financially and maintaining a level of services for taxpayers is always a challenge, Ms. Caissie said, and that was particularly true with all the storms last year, which aggravated the financial situation. “But our goal continues to be to maintain our existing levels of service.”
Among the goals for 2012: “Acquire the water company,” said Ms. Caissie, without hesitation. ”That would be a wonderful accomplishment.”
- Tuesday, 03 January 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Letter From the Editor