RUMFORD – Selectmen voted 3-2 Thursday to support having a casino in Oxford County.

Seth Carey, who proposed the project, suggested during a presentation to the board that the town invest in the casino to the tune of $20 per resident. That would bring in a total of about $130,000 from the estimated 6,500 people.

Selectman Frank DiConzo, who argued that board support was critical for passage of a state referendum on the casino proposal in November, motioned to support the effort. Selectman Mark Belanger seconded the motion, adding that he wanted a meeting with Evergreen Mountain Enterprises owner Carey to work out details. Chairman Arthur Boivin voted with the majority.

Selectmen Rob Cameron and Brad Adley voted no.

Cameron said he supported the concept of a casino in Oxford County or the Rumford area, but he wanted contingencies on the motion before he would approve it.

“Conceptually, I don’t have a problem, but there are many questions,” he said. “What’s required for infrastructure, public works, schools? It would have a huge impact on the community.”

He said he was also disturbed by information coming out about the plan.

Although he did not specify what that information was, former casino spokeswoman Pat LaMarche quit the post this week, saying she would not lie for the project.

During Carey’s presentation to the board, Adley asked who the investors were and where the casino would be located.

Carey said he had spoken with potential companies in several states on the East and West coasts.

“Hopefully, they will share the vision and be environmentally responsible,” he said.

He did not provide names and added that his company did not have funding for the project.

As to the question of where the casino would be located, Carey said there were many plots in Rumford: from Falls Hill toward Bethel along Route 2, for example. He said he had spoken with several landowners, although nothing definite had been determined.

DiConzo said support for the project was crucial.

“Not giving approval for development has been our downfall. There were companies that wanted to come here, but weren’t wanted. Selectmen were all millworkers,” he said. “They’ve put all their eggs in one basket. If we say yes, and investors come forward, that will be a move in the right direction.”

Later he added, “If we say no, we’re saying, ‘Stay the hell out.'”

An informal survey taken by written ballot at the town office and on the town’s Web site showed that most respondents favored the casino. However, interim Town Manager Len Greaney said fewer than 50 people voiced their opinions.

Selectmen are expected to meet with Carey in a few weeks, either in a workshop session or in a closed-door session to discuss additional details of the plan.

Carey has been working to bring a casino to the area for more than two years and was successful in gathering the required 100,000 signatures to put a ballot question before voters.


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