Belmont Park will soon become the first racetrack in the United States to have an on-site, year-round child care center. Construction of the new facility began in March and should be completed this fall. When fully operational, it will accommodate 80 children each day.
The Belmont Child Care Association, a private, not-for-profit organization, initiated the project five years ago.
"Most people don't realize how many people work in the backstretch of a racetrack," said Suzee Bailey, a founder of the association. "Here at Belmont and Aqueduct, the majority of hot walkers and grooms are parents of very young children. Their incomes are limited as is their formal education, but they take wonderful care of the horses. We want their children to be well-cared for while they work."
Michael Dubb, a builder and owner of The Beechwood Organization in Jericho, N.Y., is president of the association. Dubb is building the shell of the facility and overseeing the entire construction process at no cost to the association.
A capital campaign was launched last year to fund the project. The center will be called Anna House in recognition of Laura and Eugene Melnyk's gift of $1 million. NYRA trustee Joe Cornacchia and his wife, Eileen, are leading the fund-raising effort.