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Ocean Downs behind schedule for slots debut


So much for Maryland's first slots parlor opening by Memorial Day.

In a letter to a state panel, the owner of Ocean Downs racetrack wrote this week that several issues related to renovation of his facility -- including asbestos problems -- would push back the advertised arrival of slots machines.

"Due to these unexpected site conditions, there will be an undetermined delay in the projected opening date of Memorial Day 2010," wrote William M. Rickman, owner of the harness-racing track located about five miles west of Ocean City.

In September, a state site location commission awarded the first of Maryland's five slots licenses to Rickman, who plans to install 800 machines on the track property.

Renovations are no longer racing forward.

"We have discovered substantial asbestos in the building," Rickman wrote. "The roof panels dating back to the original construction were painted with galvanized paint, which concealed this condition on initial observation. Upon commencement of demolition, the contractor discovered the asbestos. We have halted demolition of the asbestos portion of the project to investigate further."

And there's more.

"We have completed a structural steel survey in our grandstand and have discovered serious corrosion in many of the primary and secondary structural members, some of it very problematic, and requiring further investigation to determine if we have adequate strength for the renovation or if we need to take addtional measures," Rickman wrote.

Another holdup: The track is waiting for a Traffic Impact Study from the State Highway Administration that is needed to begin construction once demolition is complete, Rickman said.

By John Wagner  |  December 8, 2009; 1:06 PM ET
Categories:  John Wagner , Slots  
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