SALEM — There may never be a casino at Rockingham Park, but there will be a large crowd there during the next election.
Instead of placing bets, voters will be gambling on who they want to elect to office. District 1 residents will be casting ballots at the former racetrack in March.
Selectmen unanimously approved town moderator Christopher Goodnow’s request Monday to use Rockingham Park as a polling place in March because of major renovations taking place at Fisk School.
“We don’t have a home for our Fisk polling place and voters who vote there,” Goodnow said.
Fisk is one of three elementary schools that will undergo a $16.2 million renovation over the next year. Yesterday, contractors and an excavator were busy at work at the school. The school’s main entrance has been moved to the building’s rear while construction is underway.
Rockingham Park is one of only a few locations in the district that could accommodate several thousand voters on Election Day, Goodnow said. The other is the Icecenter on Lowell Road, he said.
“There were two excellent alternatives and I’m definitely appreciative of both for offering their facilities for free,” Goodnow said yesterday.
After learning Fisk School would be under construction for a year, Goodnow said he knew he would have to find a new polling place, but the search would be difficult.
Rockingham Park president and general manager Edward Callahan offered the use of his facility, but Goodnow said he was hesitant to accept if Salem voters would be asked in March if they wanted a casino in town.
Earlier this year, 80 percent of those who voted in the March election said they supported a casino in Salem.
Millennium Gaming of Las Vegas has proposed a multimillion-dollar casino at Rockingham Park, but state lawmakers rejected expanded gambling. New casino legislation has been proposed for the next session, which begins in January.