July 17, 2018
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Board of Environmental Protection OKs Oxford casino funding

By Tony Reaves, Sun Journal

OXFORD — The Board of Environmental Protection approved evidence from Black Bear Entertainment on Thursday that the investors have enough money to build a casino on Route 26.

At the June 15 meeting of the BEP, board members ruled that the investors hadn’t yet demonstrated financial capacity to complete the project. Rather than risk leaving it unfinished, the board ordered site work, aside from work relating to on-site water sources, to stop until Black Bear proved it could pay for the casino.

“We are very excited that, as a result of that, we can go forward,” Black Bear Community Development Director Scott Smith said Thursday.

Smith said all that remains is filing paperwork, which he said would be complete by next Wednesday at the latest.

Much of the site has been cleared of trees. Some excavating will be necessary so storm water can flow into planned retention pools, and the area of the septic field behind the resort will need to be cleared of trees.

“We’ve been conservative” with clearing, Smith said.

Smith did not say whether Black Bear had found a gaming partner, but said the company will announce one at the end of the legislative session. “We’re looking forward to making that announcement,” he said.

Black Bear is also working with the Maine Department of Transportation to install traffic lights at the site.

The BEP gave Black Bear until the middle of September to demonstrate there was ample water at the site to supply the casino’s projected 22,000 gallons-per-day usage rate. Smith said water data is still being collected, but that Black Bear is confident the site has sufficient groundwater.

In the meantime, Black Bear has expressed interest in connecting to the town of Oxford’s water supply, offering to pay $500,000 of the cost and to let the town use land on the casino site for a 500,000 gallon reserve tank.

Oxford voters will decide whether to approve moving forward on that project at a town meeting at 6:30 p.m. July 14 at Oxford Elementary School.

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