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Vernon Downs race track first opened its doors for the harness racing season of 1953. The track holds a prestigious place in the rich history of the sport, known for competitiveness and its fast miles, once coined “Home of the Miracle Mile” after the legendary, Adios Harry, set a world-record time at the track that stood for 18 years. More recently Vernon Downs has expanded its offerings to include hotel accommodations with a casino as well as event center operations to offset the slow decline in racing and to become more competitive in the region. Now coined a “racino”, this latest endeavor undertaken was an $8.1 million renovation and expansion project to upgrade and enlarge the complex’s event center.
Under a contract to VIP Structures of Syracuse, O’Connell Electric was hired to complete all electrical construction for the new 16,000-square-foot multi-purpose event center. The expansion project included alterations affecting two floors of the existing hotel and casino along with construction of a new 70-seat simulcast area to view racing. The main floor of the existing facility was connected to new common areas and ballrooms, receiving and pre-function areas, meeting rooms, a new bar and lounge, and restaurant with kitchen that featured walk-in coolers and freezers. Renovations to the second and third floors of the hotel involved addition of a new mechanical room and the conversion of several hotel rooms into offices for operations and administrative personnel.
We provided the new building’s underground electrical service, designed to back-feed existing electrical distribution equipment, as well as the emergency power distribution system which featured a 500KW Packaged Engine Generator to ensure continual facilities operation. O’Connell installed all branch wiring and feeders for the new distribution power system, interior and exterior lighting with related dimming and control systems, fire and building safety systems, as well as all hook-ups for mechanical equipment.
The casino and hotel operate on a twenty four-hour, seven-day-a-week schedule. To facilitate continued operations during intermittent power outages, O’Connell installed and managed a temporary onsite generator to keep all systems live and facilities operational. The size and nature of the expansion necessitated a larger-scale power shutdown that required advanced planning and sign-off from both Vernon Downs management and the local utility. O’Connell drafted the plan and managed execution of the outage/re-energization process which was carried out flawlessly.
O’Connell employees executed all work responsibly, providing sound resolutions to issues that arose, maintaining professionalism at all times, as well as meeting and exceeding all schedule obligations for this fast-track project.