Lewiston casino backers plan to ready to kick off local campaign

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LEWISTON — Backers of a casino on the site of Bates Mill No. 5 will kick off their local campaign this weekend, urging city voters to let them proceed.

“As the day gets closer, we’re doing more and more,” said Stavros Mendros, spokesman for casino group Great Falls Recreation and Redevelopment LLC. “We have our yard signs and our pamphlets and we should start going door to door this weekend.”

If Lewiston voters approve the proposal at the polls on June 8, Great Falls Recreation will pay the city $150,000 in several installments through December 2011 for a purchase option on the property at the corner of Main and Lincoln streets. That would let the casino group begin gathering signatures for a statewide ballot question, asking voters to allow a Lewiston casino.

If state voters say yes at the polls in November 2011, the casino group would buy the land from the city for a fair market price and begin developing a casino.

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The Lewiston vote is the first step, Mendros said. “We have it all spelled out, what we think this is going to mean for everyone.”

According to the agreement Lewiston voters will see next month, the casino would pay 5 percent of all revenues to local government. Lewiston would get 2.5 percent — a half-percent for unspecified infrastructure improvements and 2 percent for the General Fund. Auburn and Androscoggin County each would get 1 percent of the revenues, with the towns of Sabattus, Lisbon and Greene sharing another half-percent.

The casino also would pay between $2 million and $3 million in property taxes to the city.

Mendros said the group submitted a more detailed bill to the Maine Secretary of State’s Office this week. That’s the bill voters will see in November 2011. It specifies that 40 percent of all revenues will be paid out, either to the state, local governments or regional efforts.

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said Thursday the bill was being revised and would not be released to the public until it was finished.

Great Falls Recreation and Redevelopment LLC is made up of Mendros, local anesthesiologist Ron Chicoine and Lewiston resident Peter Robinson. Other partners are Mendros’ 81-year-old mother, Florentia Mendros, New Hampshire anesthesiologist Tim Poutre and his wife, Wendy Chicoine-Poutre. Chicoine-Poutre, a Lewiston native, is the sister of Ron Chicoine.

staylor@sunjournal.com

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