LEWISTON — Lewiston city councilors will meet in a closed-door session tonight to consider a proposal to tear down Bates Mill No. 5 and build a casino, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.
Acting City Administrator Phil Nadeau confirmed the executive session was set up to discuss a proposal for the 8-acre property, which is the portion of the Bates Mill complex on Lincoln Street closest to Main Street. Nadeau would say only that proposals by some individuals interested in the land were to be discussed; he declined to discuss details. The Council's agenda listed an executive session for real estate negotiations.
Another city official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the negotiations would involve an offer from a local businessman that includes the city selling him an option on the land for potential casino development.
A prominent Maine businessman told the Sun Journal today that he had been approached about two months ago by an intermediary for a group of Lewiston-based investors who were interested in building a casino on the site of the former textile mill.
That individual said he declined involvement in the group, not because he was for or against the idea but because he was too busy with other ventures.
Lewiston's former city administrator, Jim Bennett, said Tuesday it would not surprise him if a push for a casino at the mill property was being presented. He said several members of the Council had pitched the idea to him in the past.
Bennett said he disagreed with them over the economic benefits a casino would bring to the city, so they stopped discussing the idea with him.
"I told them I didn't think a casino was all it was cracked up to be for a be-all, end-all for economic development," he said.
It is unclear whether the City Council will vote on the proposal Tuesday night.