The owners of the former Scarborough Downs harness racing track have donated use of the facility’s grandstand to MaineHealth, so it can open a high-volume COVID-19 vaccination clinic according to a press release issued by John Porter, of MaineHealth.
Crossroad Holdings, the Scarborough-based company that is redeveloping 500 plus acres at Scarborough Downs, has diverted its construction crew to retrofit the grandstand within a two-week period. Staffed with more than 100 MaineHealth employees and volunteers, the 30,000 sq. ft.clinic is expected to have the capacity to vaccinate at least 1,000 people per day.
“Finding a space that is centrally located to accommodate all of the needs of a high-volume clinic is vital to our efforts to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible,” said Bill Caron, CEO of MaineHealth. “This generous donation from Crossroad Holdings is a big step forward in getting this pandemic under control and saving lives in Maine.”
A 40-member construction team managed by Scarborough Maine Properties and Risbara Brothers Construction will work 7-days a week in order to complete the clinic by the end of January. It is expected to be operational for six months beginning in early February. The construction teams will build clinical workspaces, improve access to high-speed broadband and build out refrigeration rooms needed to house the vaccines. The State of Maine will assist with on-site security. The conversion of the grandstand to a vaccination center began about a week ago according to Peter Michaud, one of the owners of the property and its managing partner.
Maine Governor Janet Mills has authorized the administration of COIVD-19 vaccines to people 70 and older and MaineHealth has worked closely with the State to roll out vaccinations and clinics as quickly as possible.
At his COVID-19 virus briefing today, Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of the Maine CDC, said he was delighted with the use of the property in Scarborough for this purpose. It’s the first such location in the state and the state continues to look for similar sites in the state – all dependent upon when an ample supply of the vaccine arrives in Maine. That has not happened yet. This location fit all the requirements needed, including parking, ventilation, and not too many stairs for those with mobility issues said Dr. Shah. “I hope there will be more sites like this to come,” Dr. Shah said.
“MaineHealth” has been great to our family over the years and that is one of the reasons we are donating this site in this way,” said Peter Michaud, one of the owners of the 500 acre site and managing partner of the development that is under way. “We also know there is a strong need for a site like this.” He said it’s a great location for this purpose for a number of reasons. One of them is its proximity to the Maine Turnpike. The unpretentious Michaud has been in talks with Bill Caron, CEO of MaineHealth, since January 8, 2021 he said. “This was done with the essence of time in mind. It was done quickly.” The grandstand and surrounding property involved in the establishment compromises 3 to 4 acres, less than 3% of the entire 500 acre site under development. The former race track is currently being developed into a residential and commercial site.
Town leaders in Scarborough have been extraordinarily supportive of this project. They have worked quickly to secure all needed permits for the grandstands new, temporary use. The Town Council will hold an emergency meeting to approve and finalize plans on Tuesday, January 26, 2021.