Arlington Park president Cliff Goodrich announced Monday that the track's plans to build two new backstretch family housing facilities, originally scheduled to be completed in two phases over the next 17 months, has been accelerated into a new schedule that calls for both buildings with 96 new living units to be ready for the start of the track's 2005 meet in May, if weather permits the construction to adhere to the revised timetable. In addition, Goodrich revised the projected expense of the new housing project, which broke ground earlier this month, from the original $3 million estimate to just over $4 million even with the minor cost benefits of constructing both facilities at the same time.
"We are extremely pleased to have the opportunity to make our new housing for backstretch residents available sooner than originally planned," said Goodrich. "This is a continuing indication of Arlington Park's long-term commitment to improving the quality of life while ensuring the safety of families on the backstretch. 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."Ground was broken on Nov. 14, 2004 for the two new buildings that will be built in the northwest section of the backstretch, in proximity to all services provided at the Racing 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 in order to provide a safe environment for children living in the backstretch.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 nearly 200 square feet. Every unit also will have a separate bathroom with a sink, toilet and shower for its occupants. In addition, individually controlled heating and air conditioning will be incorporated into the design, with a microwave in every unit and laundry facilities will be included on each floor.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 Racing Industry Charitable Foundation, 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.