OXFORD — The steel frame of the Black Bear casino is up, and the casino is on track to open in the late spring of 2012.
“I would say June,” Black Bear Community Development Director Scott Smith said Friday. He said it could open earlier, but the time is dependent on weather conditions both in the fall and the spring.
“We've been very fortunate with the weather, and we'll take it,” Smith. “But we also know how that changes."
On Friday, only the frame of the porte cochere over the front entrance was unfinished. Smith said prefabricated wall panels will go up next and Black Bear hopes to have temporary heating in the building by mid-December. Once the building is enclosed, workers will install the electrical system that runs under the floor to power slot machines.
While the interior can be built through the winter, Smith said landscaping will have to wait until the spring. The storm water ponds have been dug and lined, and stone retention walls have been built along the sides, but most of the property is still a dirt lot. The walls will have a finish on them to make them look more natural, Smith said.
The company has a three-phase plan for building out the casino to eventually include a hotel, spa and convention center. Black Bear has said later stages could change depending on how well the initial casino performs.
The casino also faces a legal action against its proposed sewer system by the Androscoggin River Alliance, which charges that sewage output could eventually harm nearby Hogan, Whitney, Green and Mirror ponds.
The sewage system has not been built yet because of the wet summer. When the casino opens, the sewage system will likely not be finished. According to a letter to the Department of Environmental Protection written by Bob Berry of Main-Land Development, waste water will likely be trucked to the Paris Utility District until the sewage system and leech fields are completed.
On Nov. 8, Maine voters rejected proposed casinos in Lewiston, Biddeford and Washington County that would have competed with Black Bear. Casino investors donated about $200,000 to an anti-casino effort.
On Tuesday, Massachusetts lawmakers passed a bill allowing three resort casinos in the state.
Smith said Black Bear isn't being distracted by the possibility of competitors. “We're focused on our project,” he said.