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Contact: Dan Leary
ARLINGTON PARK ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR $3 MILLION IN NEW BACKSTRETCH HOUSING CONSTRUCTION
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (June 18, 2004) -- Arlington Park President Cliff Goodrich announced Friday that Arlington Park will build two new dormitories for backstretch workers at the track in a press conference held at the site of the new housing. The project, which will be completed in two phases at an estimated cost of $3 million, will add 96 new units in two separate buildings over the next two years. Funding for the project -- which was first submitted to Arlington Park's parent company, Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) in May 2004 -- was approved June 17 during a regularly scheduled meeting of the executive committee of CDI's board of directors.
"Today's announcement of the construction of new housing on the Arlington Park backstretch is the culmination of many months of planning," said Goodrich. "Arlington Park has a long-term commitment to improving the quality of life while ensuring the safety of families on the backstretch. This is just one step in that process.
"Even though our backstretch accommodations and services are among the best in the country, we will continue to strive to improve housing conditions, health care, social services, child care, educational programs, and recreational opportunities for our backstretch residents as we always have," added Goodrich.
"The Board is extremely pleased with the action Arlington Park is taking to improve the living conditions for the backstretch workforce and its families," said Lorna Propes, chairman of the Illinois Racing Board. "We see this as a very positive initiative which will address the myriad of safety and standard of living issues presented by the racing industry practice of providing free housing for seasonal workers. With the growing number of workers who require housing, not just for themselves, but for children, the challenges are increased. The Board and the Illinois racetracks are committed to a continuing exploration of solutions for these issues. We commend Arlington on this important first step."
The two new dorms will be built in the northwest section of the backstretch, in proximity to all services provided at the Racetrack Industry Charitable Foundation building and adjacent to the recreational area, where the children's summer day camp is conducted. In addition, the new housing will be isolated from all barns and any roadways utilized by the large motorized vehicles required to transport horses, deliver hay and straw, and remove manure to provide a safe environment in cases where there are children in the new dorms.
Both of the two new buildings will be two stories high with 48 units, 24 on each floor. Each room will provide a sleeping space of approximately 16' X 12', or about 190 square feet, exceeding the current Building Code requirements in the Village of Arlington Heights, which has adopted the National Building Administrators and Code Administrators (BOCA) law as part of its local building ordinance. Every room will have a separate sink, toilet and shower for its occupants. In addition, individually controlled, central heating, ventilation and air conditioning will be incorporated into the design, and laundry facilities will be included on each floor.
Construction on the first building will begin following the conclusion of the current racing season on Sept. 19, 2004, so that it will be ready for occupancy by May 2005 when horsemen begin to arrive for next year's meet. The second building will constructed during the off-season, after the 2005 race meet, in order to be ready for start of the following season in May 2006.
The 160-acre Arlington Park backstretch is home to 2,140 horses and approximately 1,100 backstretch residents during the racing season from May through September. Arlington Park provides free housing to all backstretch residents, who work for individual trainers and are not employees of the track.
In addition, three organizations, the Racetrack Industry Charitable Foundation (RICF), the Race Track Chaplaincy of America and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association provide a myriad of services and programs to backstretch residents largely free of charge.
The RICF provides on-site medical, dental and social services, as well as licensed outpatient substance abuse counseling and access to community mental health clinics to the employees and residents on the backstretches of the racetracks in Illinois.
RICF services are provided mostly free of charge to eligible backstretch workers and their families by an all-bilingual staff that includes a doctor, dentist, registered nurse and counselors. In addition, the RICF maintains a 24-Hour On-Call service.
The Race Track Chaplaincy of America was organized to enhance the lifestyles and life skills of all racing personnel through spiritually based guidance, efficient benevolence, linkage to community resources and track-based educational programs. With 45 chaplains serving 60 separate racing facilities nationally, RTCA serves over 100,000 racing employees, including more than 30,000 who live on the backstretch.
At Arlington Park, Chaplain Luis Peralta and three assistant chaplains maintain an office in one of the dormitories on the backstretch and hold non-denominational services in both English and Spanish three days a week. In addition, Chaplain Luis conducts educational classes, including English as a second language and Bible studies for adults and children, and participates in the recreational day camp for children of backstretch workers. Chaplain Luis also conducts spiritual and family counseling for backstretch residents.
"The new dorms will improve living conditions for the people on the backstretch and make the track a safer place for the kids because they will be away from the main traffic and the horses," said Peralta about the announcement.
The I.T.H.A., a not-for-profit corporation with approximately 4,800 Thoroughbred owners and trainers as members, works with the RICF and Racetrack Chaplaincy of America to assist in providing services to backstretch workers at Arlington Park. In addition, the organization created the ITHA Library and Learning Center, hailed nationwide, as the first of its kind. The Library and Learning Center, located in the backstretch of Arlington Park, is run by Program Director Melanie Schikore who is a qualified bi-lingual teacher for after-school homework and other programs for the backstretch kids. On Monday and Wednesday there are English/Spanish (ESL) classes for adults.
Arlington Park, the Chicago area's premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill., is running a 96-day meet in 2004 from Friday, May 14 through Sunday, Sept. 19. Arlington Park, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates eight off-track, simulcast-wagering facilities - Trackside Arlington Park (Arlington Heights), Trackside Quad City Downs (East Moline), Trackside Chicago, Trackside McHenry, Trackside Rockford, Trackside South Beloit, Trackside Waukegan and Longshots featuring Trackside OTB in South Elgin. Information on Arlington Park can be found online at www.arlingtonpark.com.
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