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Contact: Dan Leary
ARLINGTON PARK AND UNITED STATES REACH SETTLEMENT ON BACKSTRETCH HOUSING
Track Announces Construction of New $2.6 Million Backstretch Residence for 2007 Season
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (March 1, 2007) – Arlington Park announced today that it has agreed to a settlement in a Federal lawsuit brought by the United States and HOPE Fair Housing Center regarding the track’s backstretch housing. The settlement still must be approved by the federal court.
In addition, Arlington Park announced that it has made significant progress on the construction of a new $2.6 million residential building with 48 units that will be ready for occupancy prior to the start of the 2007 racing season, which begins on Friday, May 4, 2007.
The Consent Decree recognizes Arlington Park's right to continue its policy of not placing children in certain residential buildings located adjacent to stables and related operations based upon safety concerns. Under the Consent Decree, the parties have agreed that Arlington Park may limit residence in such buildings to backstretch workers who are licensed by the Illinois Racing Board. The Consent Decree, which was approved by the federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, provides that application of this “Licensed Worker Restriction” does not constitute familial discrimination under the federal Fair Housing Act.
“The terms of this settlement validate our concerns and policy,” said Arlington Park President Roy Arnold in making the announcement. “The safety of the children living on the backstretch has always been our primary concern. Our housing policy takes into consideration that the proximity of certain housing in question to Thoroughbred race horses and various heavy agricultural and industrial operations poses significant risks and dangers for persons residing in those buildings.”
“Prior to the start of the 2005 racing season, the track constructed two new buildings with 96 total housing units at a cost of $4.2 million,” added Arnold. “As further proof of our commitment, before our 2007 race meet Arlington Park will complete the construction of another new building with 48 housing units that include private bathrooms and air conditioning for backstretch workers with families at a cost of approximately $2.6 million.”
Also as part of the settlement, Arlington Park will donate $100,000 to District 214 Community Education to expand the “Kids on Track” summer program to operate on weekends for eight weeks each summer for the next three years with any remaining funds to be used for the purchase of new recreational and/or computer equipment, and software.
“Illinois is the only state that requires racetracks to provide housing for the families of backstretch workers, which places significant demands on the tracks to provide on-site services to those residents,” explained Arnold. “The backstretch residents work directly for individual trainers and are not employees of Arlington Park. All housing and almost all services provided by the Racetrack Industry Charitable Foundation (RICF), Racetrack Chaplaincy of America (RTCA) and District 214 Community Education are funded by Arlington Park and provided at no cost to backstretch residents and their families.”
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, the racetrack Chaplain maintains an office on the backstretch and holds non-denominational services in both English and Spanish three days a week. In addition, the Chaplaincy conducts educational classes, including English as a second language and Bible studies for adults and children as well as spiritual and family counseling for backstretch residents.
After playing an educational role for several years in Arlington Park’s backstretch summer camp for children, two years ago, District 214 Community Education’s Adult Education and Family Literacy department, at Arlington Park’s request, assumed supervision of the “Kids on Track” summer backstretch program. In addition to providing the staff and coordinating materials for the eight-week program, Community Education developed and implemented the curricula, and managed the recruitment, training and oversight of volunteers.
Through the coordination of District 214 Community Education, many community organizations have partnered with the program including the Community & Economic Development Association of Cook County, Inc. (CEDA), which donates a free breakfast, hot lunch and snack to every child each day; Arlington Heights Memorial Library; Arlington Heights Park District; Arlington Noon Rotary Club; District 54 Early Childhood Development & Enrichment Center; Girl Scouts of the USA; Junior Achievement; Harvest Bible Chapel; and the University of Illinois Extension. In addition, private donations of T-shirts and backpacks for the children were secured from Harris Bank and People’s Bank.
In the 2006 “Kids on Track” program, 180 children were divided into four age groups that participated in rotating stations that included Academic/Tutorial, Library/Reading, Computers, Arts & Crafts and Gardening.
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 – the Chicago area’s premier Thoroughbred racetrack located in Arlington Heights, Ill. – will run a 94-day meet in 2007 from Friday, May 4 through Sunday, Sept. 16. Arlington Park, whose parent company is Churchill Downs Incorporated (Nasdaq: CHDN), also operates nine off-track, simulcast-wagering facilities: Trackside Arlington Park (Arlington Heights), Trackside Chicago, Trackside Quad City Downs (East Moline), Trackside Rockford, Trackside Waukegan, Fat Sam’s Bar & Grill featuring Trackside OTB in Lockport, Lucky’s featuring Trackside OTB in South Elgin, Nicolino’s featuring Trackside OTB in McHenry and The Inferno featuring Trackside OTB in South Beloit. Information on Arlington Park can be found online at www.arlingtonpark.com.
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