A rendered image of the Edge Sports Complex Design for the Scarborough Downs Project. Contributed

SCARBOROUGH — The town won’t use a documented timeline to oversee what developers are doing at the community center project at Crossroads Holdings Scarborough Downs because officials say developers are keeping the town informed enough.

“This (documentation) came up in early August, and we’ve come a long way since then,” said Town Manager Tom Hall. “Largely the reasons we wanted to come to this understanding was to identify mutual expectations and obligations. (The agreement) was meant to provide clarity, but it doesn’t.”

According to the memorandum of understanding tabled at the meeting, the Scarborough Development Entity LLC, and Edge Sports Group, a Massachusetts company that develops sports facilities, are collaborating on a community center within the “downtown” area of the project. Edge Sports Group signed on earlier this year.  

“I was an advocate for this six weeks ago, but now we have a strong committee up and running and the developers have been an active participant and are collaborating well,” Councilor John Cloutier said. “This document doesn’t add anything to the process and could confuse things.”

The developers include brothers William Risbara, Marc Risbara, Rocco Risbara III, along with siblings Peter and Richard Michaud.

According to the Edge Sports website, the complex would be a private, for-profit, fee-based facility offering various types of memberships, such as individual, group, league and municipal. It would include swimming pools, ice rinks, indoor and outdoor playing fields, spectator areas and other activity spaces.

The project doesn’t come without controversy, however. After two months of non-public discussions between Edge and town leaders, SMARTaxes, a local group advocating for lower taxes, alleges that the need and timing of the community center project is not being considered in relation to other pressing and expensive town needs, such as school construction.
Earlier this year, Edge proposed that the town lease 25,000 square feet of the new sports complex from Edge. The lease for a minimum of 30 years and would have $65.5 million in total lease payments. Edge withdrew the proposal.

The Town Council created an Ad-Hoc Community Center Advisory Committee earlier this year to undertake the analysis and make recommendations regarding the community center, with a submission deadline of Dec. 15. The committee has nine voting members and six non-voting members.

The rules, put together in September, had set a deadline for completion, and made clear that the town would work closely with the developers. However, councilors said the constant cooperation of developers with committee members has shown a formal agreement is no longer needed.

According to the agreement, the downtown community center aims to reduce transportation costs and increase convenience for high school sports teams, while also offering people a place to come together and participate in recreational activities.

Cross Roads purchased the property in January 2018 for $6.7 million. Phase I of the project included the sale and development of condominiums, with 48 apartments already spoken for and all 30 single-family homes now under contract.

The newest phase includes Innovation District at 90 Payne Road, which abuts the Scarborough Downs harness horse racing track and will incorporate residential, commercial and recreational components. Plans for a third phase are still in the early development stages, according to developers.

The project will include 2,500-square-foot incubator spaces designed to support small businesses and startups that are ready to lease professional space but not prepared to buy or invest large amounts of money.

The $621 million project is near the intersection of Payne Road and the Maine Turnpike and will have three commercial gateways. Also included will be 10 miles of recreational trails, with 40% of the total acreage to be preserved as open space.

The sale of the Scarborough Downs race track property, which opened in the 1950s, was completed in January 2018. However, the track remains open and races are still being held.

A study was completed over the summer to consider the project cost, and now Edge Sports Group will move forward with the final design and permitting process. Any negotiations must be concluded by February 2020, along with agreements on the cost and size of the community center, Hall said; the sports complex could open as early as spring 2021.
Diana Nelson, spokeswoman for the project, said in September that the Scarborough Downs project is expected to generate about $10 million in new tax revenue and about 3,000 new jobs for Scarborough by the time the entirety project is completed 20-40 years from now.

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