Lake Barrington plan commissioners listened intently Thursday to a proposal for an off-track betting parlor inside the cash-strapped but landmark Kelsey Road House on Northwest Highway.
"We love to cook for people and this will bring more people for us to cook for," said Kelsey's owner Beverly Langer.
The commission delayed action on the proposal until its March 19 meeting.
The parlor could bring in $70,000 a year for the village, Melrose Park-based Inter-Track Partners said.
Inter-Track's Bob Bilocerkowycz said they would look into a three-year lease for operation. He added that Lake Barrington's love for horses made an OTB a good match.
But Barrington Unit District 220 owns property near Kelsey's. School spokesman Jeff Arnett said the district is considering building a middle school on the parcel. He asked Lake Barrington officials to consider an OTB's ramifications.
Residents had the usual questions about noise and the character of an OTB patron. Resident Chris Mitchell said an OTB would ruin the rural character of the village.
"Please do not gamble on the future of Lake Barrington," he said.
Inter-Track is requesting to move its license from Lucky D's in Wauconda to the Lake Barrington restaurant.
Langer said maintenance issues at the cavernous building coupled with the sagging economy are making the proposal her best bet for long-term survival.
"I hope I get it, because I really, desperately need it," Langer said.
Langer wants to convert a room in the restaurant now devoted to billiards and dart boards into an off-track betting facility.
With the move from Lucky D's, the next closest off-track betting parlor is the Trackside restaurant next to Arlington Park Racetrack in Arlington Heights. That's run by a different operator than Inter-Track Partners.
Langer said the facility would probably operate from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. five days a week. Because of televised horse races from all over the world, the facility would probably be able to operate year-round.
Lake Barrington Village Administrator Chris Martin said he's checked out several other facilities run by Inter-Track Partners and found nothing objectionable about them. The communities he's spoken with have reported no increases in crime or disorderliness from the off-track betting parlors.
In fact, Inter-Track Partners is moving from Wauconda only because of lease issues with the current host business, not from any concerns of the village's, Martin said.
Langer said typical off-track betting customers tend to be seniors and businessmen, not people who cause trouble.
One overarching concern Lake Barrington officials face is the difficulty in finding another use for the castlelike restaurant and tavern if the current owner can't make a go of it, Martin said.
The village wants to keep all its existing businesses viable and there would be a possibility that the building would have to be razed, he said.
The Lake Barrington plan commission will meet at 7 tonight at village hall, 23860 Old Barrington Road.