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Contentious Board Meeting Gives Way To $2 Beer Night At Northville Downs

Harness track’s future in doubt as owners remain tight-lipped




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A mere two months ago, Northville Downs’ proposed relocation to a tract of acreage it owns in nearby Plymouth Township appeared to be a rubber stamp away from approval. But then a group of vocal opponents coalesced and have been wreaking havoc at Board of Trustees meetings ever since, creating serious doubt about the 79-year-old harness racetrack’s future.

“We had another contentious board meeting” on July 25, Plymouth Township Supervisor Kurt Heise told MI Bets last week. He said there were 75 members of the public in attendance, all of whom were opposed to the track’s relocation to Five Mile Road. Twenty of them spoke at the meeting, including a man named Dale Bernhardt (who we’d like to think rolled up to the meeting in a No. 3 Chevy).

According to draft minutes from the meeting, Treasurer and Trustee Bob Doroshewitz testified that, despite being a non-gambler, he had frequented Northville Downs and had a pleasant time. He asked people to “stop shouting at each other” and reminded attendees that Northville Downs already owned the property on which it planned to build the new racetrack.

Heise echoed these sentiments, saying that the new track would not cost taxpayers any money and would provide the community with a “generous benefit” if ultimately approved. That said, Heise told MI Bets that the township has yet to come to final agreement on community benefits with the track’s owners, Mike and John Carlo.

“Opposition is mounting and we are still in negotiations with Northville Downs,” said Heise. “Frankly, you would have to talk to [the Carlos] to see where they are headed. As far as supporting the track, we have always maintained that for permission to be granted, they would have to sign off on a PUD and a community benefits agreement. I’ve made that very clear to the Carlo brothers going back to last year. We’ve had discussions but have yet to come to terms. We have not had much communication with the Carlos or their representatives for a couple weeks. At this point, the ball’s in their court.”

The Carlo brothers did not return calls seeking comment from MI Bets.

Works of Art

Back at the old track, which is hosting its final meet, 64-year-old Art McIlmurray continues to hold his own in Northville’s driver and trainer standings, ranking fifth and fourth, respectively.

Racing at “the Ville” will continue every Friday and Saturday night through the end of September, with $2 hot dogs and draft beer beckoning on Aug. 11. First post is 7 p.m.

Photo: Davide Mombelli, Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images