By Rod Lee
Curious motorists must have wondered what kind of activity was brewing as they entered Oxford Center along Sutton St. the morning of June 4th.
Gathered on a narrow but deep lot on the north side of the street just east of the traffic light at the main intersection in town was a small contingent of worker bees, one of whom—Ron Rheault, retired from Rheault Construction—was using a bobcat to grade off the parcel.
Troop 147’s Matthew Rosebrooks is helping spearhead creation of a gateway park in Oxford as his Eagle Scout project
Mr. Rheault is vice president of the Oxford Business Association and an assistant scoutmaster with Troop 147. Together, the OBA and Troop 147 are turning the long-vacant parcel into a “gateway park” for the town of Oxford.
“It’s my Eagle Scout project,” Matthew Rosebooks, 17, said. A high school student, Matthew was excited about plantings, including shrubs and dogwood and crabapple trees, which will provide the site with “year-round color.” Plans also call for a walkway, benches, a gazebo and “maybe a share garden,” he said.
“This was kind of a void space since Valley Green left,” Matthew’s mother, Debi Lomuscio-Rosebrooks, said. “They distributed fertilizer. Ron Rheault asked us to help. This park is going to serve as a welcome to Oxford.”
Often operating without much fanfare, the Oxford Business Association with longtime businesspersons like Larry Crowley, Dan Prouty and Ron Rheault at the helm, has periodically stepped forward to take on community-betterment initiatives. “A good place to do business” signage around town, previous upkeep of the bandstand on the Town Common and a World War II commemorative book are indicative of the way the OBA has gotten involved, over the years.
A rail-trail project the OBA will be tackling in collaboration with the Oxford Conservation Commission is on the docket, Mr. Prouty and Mr. Rheault said.
Another book, dedicated to Korea and Vietnam-era veterans, was “60% done, then Covid hit,” Mr. Prouty said.
Many people are unaware of just how involved in civic life the OBA is, Mr. Prouty, who grew up in Oxford, said. “We have our meetings, we do a lot of stuff. Guys bring food to our office and we take it to the food bank.”
The Oxford Business Association is always looking for new members to bolster its ranks, which have aged.
“A few years ago I was the young guy in the group,” Mr. Prouty said. “Fifteen years ago we had one hundred forty or more members. Now it’s fifty to sixty.”
The Oxford Business Association relies on relationships it develops with local enterprises to take on and complete projects like the gateway park, the design for which was drawn up by Scott Baker of Charlton. “Wilson’s (Wilson Language Training Corp.)” is one of these partners. Robbins Garden Center is another, and IPG. Pine Sand & Grave and Lapierre Fence too.
“Robbins is often wonderful with us,” Ms. Lomuscio-Rosebrooks said, on site on June 4th.
Talking about what had been accomplished two days later, Mr. Rheault said “everything is planted, it looks good.”
All for the betterment of Oxford, Mr. Prouty said.
“For so many years this town thought it was Rodney Dangerfield,” he said.