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OTB plan winning over Villa Park trustees
By Kathryn Grondin
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Published: 2/22/2008 4:30 PM | Updated: 2/23/2008 12:23 AM

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Several Villa Park trustees are betting on thoroughbred racing being a winner for the village.

With a key vote planned for Monday, three of the six trustees say they plan to support a measure to allow an off-track-betting parlor in town. Two other trustees say they are leaning toward approval.

Only one trustee said he remains undecided.

Arlington Park and Salerno Pincente Ristorante are seeking permission to open a joint off-track betting parlor and restaurant along North Avenue.

If built, the 10,000-square-foot facility would generate an estimated $100,000 a year in racing profits for Villa Park and create 30 to 50 new jobs.

Monday's vote would enable the Arlington Heights racetrack to apply for a permit for the betting parlor from the Illinois Racing Board.

The village still would have to hold a hearing and vote on a zoning issue related to the project.

Trustees Tom Cullerton, John Davis and Richard Illian said they are in favor of plan.

"I do not see a problem with a nice restaurant with an OTB attached," Cullerton said. "It is the spark for North Avenue."

Illian also sees the financial benefits of the facility.

"We need the money," he said.

Trustees Jeff Blankensop and Dave Hegland said Friday they weren't certain of their vote, but they're leaning toward backing the plan.

"There is a definite appeal to this," Blankensop said. "There is also a very grave concern."

Roughly three dozen residents from Villa Park and nearby communities expressed opposition, mostly on moral grounds, during a recent public forum.

They have since been lobbying local businesses and residents, addressing church congregations and circulating petitions they plan to give to the board Monday.

"We're doing all we can," said gambling opponent Kathy Gilroy of Villa Park. "The fight's not over."

Meanwhile, Trustee Al Bulthius said he's still on the fence.

"Is it the job of the village board to say to someone you can't go gamble?" he asked, then answered, "I don't think so. I'm still torn ... if this is right or not."

President Joyce Stupegia couldn't be reached for comment.

The board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday at village hall, 20 S. Ardmore Ave.