LEWISTON — Instead of campaigning for his casino plan, Stavros Mendros spent most of Tuesday trying to guarantee a spot on the November 2011 ballot.
Lewiston voters came out in support of the casino option Tuesday, voting 5,041 to 2,574 to give Mendros and his Great Falls Recreation and Redevelopment LLC an option to buy the saw-toothed-roofed Bates Mill No. 5 and the land surrounding it.
At the same time, the effort to collect signatures for a statewide vote on a Lewiston casino kicked into high gear across the state, with signature collectors working 93 polling places from Houlton to Kittery.
Back at home, Mendros said he was juggling the effort to collect petitions with the local referendum on the casino. City voters were being asked to approve a sales option for the casino.
Mendros said he was as sure as ever that the casino will be a success — if voters let it.
"I'm not saying everyone will come here, but many will," Mendros said. "And we have more to offer than just about any other place. We're a city of festivals, so people may come for the casino and stay for the Balloon Festival."
Now the group's mission is to get the matter on the November 2o11 ballot. The group needs to gather at least 55,087 signatures by the end of the year to qualify.
Mendros estimated his gatherers would end the night collecting 15,000 signatures. He said he was answering calls from gatherers around the city requesting more petitions.
"We're getting a lot of signatures, and that's a good sign," he said. "I feel pretty good about things."
Monday's vote was the first step, and Mendros said it was important. It cleared the way for the city to give Great Falls Recreation and Redevelopment LLC an option to buy the building. According to the ballot language, the group will pay Lewiston $150,000 in several installments through December 2011.
According to the agreement, the group's first $10,000 payment is due by July 8. A second $10,000 payment would be due Feb. 28, 2011, and a $30,000 payment would be due July 31, 2011. A final $100,000 payment would be due on Dec. 31, 2011 — two months after the matter goes before voters at a statewide referendum.
If voters approve that question, the group will pay a fair-market value price for the property.