Proponents of a proposal to allow video gaming at Scarborough Downs have collected enough signatures to put the question on the town’s November ballots, developer Gene Beaudoin announced Tuesday afternoon.

Beaudoin said nearly 3,000 signatures will be presented to Town Clark Yolande “Tody” Justice for verification.

The petition required about 2,207 signatures to place the item on ballots, Beaudoin said.

“We were pleased to get to the required level of signatures in less than two weeks,” Beaudoin said in a prepared statement. “There was a high level of acceptance of on the part of signers for gaming to be part of the ‘Scarborough Village’ concept.”

A law passed by statewide referendum in 2003 allowed slot machines at existing harness racing tracks with local approval, but Scarborough, Saco and Westbrook have all rejected proposals to build a racino associated with the Downs.

If Scarborough voters were to say “yes” to a racino this time around, the project will still face hurdles including approval from the Legislature and Gov. John Baldacci, who has expressed an unwilingness to expand Maine gambling; a second town-wide vote and approval from the Scarborough Town Council.

Councilors have expressed reservations about Beaudoin’s plan to develop the 535-acre Downs property into a downtown/Main Street area complete with a racino. Councilors say they would want to see some significant financial benefit for the town, which needs a new middle school and public safety building, and whose residents are also clammering for a community/senior center.

In an effort to build support for the racino, Beaudoin has orchestrated mailings to residents describing the “village” and its amenities, held community meeting to get “public guidance” about what residents envision on the Downs property, and also recruited residents to circulate the petition to place the gambling question on the November ballots.

Project supporters, now calling themselves “Scarborough Village Partners,” apparently paid Scarborough residents to circulate the petitions, according to a recent job posting on the employment Web site indeed.com. The posting said 10 signature collectors were needed but did not specify a salary. According to the job advertisement, the president of Scarborough Village Partners is Kathryn Rolston, former Scarborough Downs advertising director.

Beaudoin says he and his supporters are continuing to seek input from the community and urged residents to contat Scarborough Village Parners’ Oak Hill offices at 510-1911.

Beaudoin and track officials say the “village downtown” project is not viable without the racino, in part because the infrastructure alone, such as sewer and power lines, would cost about $20 million.


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