The bar and the driving range

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“The candidates were asked what improvements they’d recommend to  …the Oak Hills Park Authority,” Nancy on Norwalk reported.

And Common Council member and candidate Richard Bonenfant responded, “At least the Oak Hills Park Authority is trying.”

You can say that again.  Among the synonyms for trying are:  annoying, irritating, exasperating, maddening, infuriating, tiresome, irksome, troublesome, bothersome, vexing, and aggravating.

The Oak Hills Park Authority is an autonomous body that never should have been established.  But it was established and provided with nearly all the land in Norwalk’s second largest park and with the mandate to operate a golf course on that land on condition that user fees would cover the cost of the golf course.  But user fees have never covered the cost of the golf course so time and again the Authority has come back to taxpayers hat in hand.

And remarkably they almost always ended up getting the money they asked for.  Why?   Because, as someone said about a different matter in a recent comment in Nancy on Norwalk, “We have too many good old boys making decisions that are more focused on their own agendas versus what is best for overall neighborhoods and long-term goals of the city.”

What is the reason, in other words, we have problems funding our schools but no problem providing the OHPA or what might better be referred to as the Oak Hills Golfers Special Interest Group (OHGSIG) with all the money it seeks?  “Too many good old boys” more focused on promoting the interests of the Authority than the interests of all the taxpayers of Norwalk.

Hence you have Ernie DesRochers, the former chairman of the Authority and the driving force behind efforts to get taxpayers to provide it with funding for a driving range hoping to join another former member of the Authority, Shannon O’Toole Giandurco, on the Common Council.   And, so you have Common Council candidate Mark Suda claiming “a driving range would bring positive cash flow to Oak Hills Park.”

But what about candidates who would challenge Mr. Suda by pointing out that was not the conclusion of a National Golf Foundation study funded at the request of the Authority with Norwalk taxpayers’ money?  They remain silent.  Why?   Because they know if they speak up the Authority will do everything it can to motivate every golfer, golfer’s spouse and golfer’s friend to vote against them.   That is the way old boys’ networks work.  You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.  You don’t scratch my back, watch out buddy.

So, what’s next on the Authority’s agenda?

A bar.

A bar?

Yep, a bar.  According to an article that appeared in The Hour, the Authority wants to construct a sit-down bar in the restaurant in Oak Hills Park and allow it to stay open late into the night.  Apparently, it thinks a drinking establishment open at all hours will earn enough to enable its proprietor to cover the difference between the cost of maintaining the golf course and the user fees paid by golfers and still make a healthy profit.

But wouldn’t Norwalk taxpayers and neighborhood residents object to a bar in the AAA residential neighborhood surrounded by two elementary schools and one middle school in which Oak Hills Park is situated, especially a bar established for the sole purpose of bankrolling a golf course?

Paul Cantor


will harris October 26, 2017 at 7:59 am

Dude! Are you for real? The NoN article today says nothing about a bar being open “late into the night”. Stop making false claims to support your cause. They said they want to install a “family-style restaurant”. That doesn’t sound like a late-night bar to me. I would frequent a nice restaurant at that location (assuming it was ever open, not like the current situation).
I hope they continue to be “annoying, irritating, exasperating, maddening, infuriating, tiresome, irksome, troublesome, bothersome, vexing, and aggravating” just to see you get your blood into a boil.
They will win and you, as always, will lose.

Rem October 26, 2017 at 8:25 am

So the current restaurant is not family oriented? What do they want, a Friendlies? How would that pay for the $9,000 per month mortgage? We went there last month for a lunch on a beautifully sunny Saturday and aside from our table of four, there was what, six other patrons there in a restaurant for well over a hundred? Mind you area country club restaurants are usually pretty busy on weekends. Even if they had a dedicated bar(they have a sizable bar inside the restaurant already) I’m not sure it would work save for drastically moving away from the unremarkable decor and making it some kind of destination with hotel hours. Or turn it into a mini Casino (I’m kidding!) But the current iteration of the restaurant is very lacking in terms of hipness of contemporary establishments such as those on Washington Street…

Sharon October 26, 2017 at 9:53 am

Boy do I have a lot to say, but I will keep on topic.

@Rem – do you understand why there was nobody at the restaurant? It is because they are not friendly to golfers, they are never open for golfers, they are abusive to golfers and they don’t cater to golfers. I can tell you they have turned away golfers because they are having a catering event. Umm, it’s a GOLF COURSE.

@Paul – you should have never bought a home ACROSS THE STREET from a golf course, if you are not going to support it. Your accusations are unfounded and untrue. Please return to your focus of immigration. Please do some true research and put forth accurate information. Your panic and falsehoods do nothing positive for the community. I guess you are not voting for Mr. DesRochers? That’s a shame, but I will vote for him.

Paul Cantor October 26, 2017 at 10:58 am

@will harris

From a recent article in The Hour regarding the OHPA’s request for a new lease:

“In the requested new lease, the OHPA has asked the city to allow a sit-down bar …and allow the restaurant to make its own operating hours in accordance with city and state law.”

Yvonne Lopaur October 26, 2017 at 12:33 pm

My husband and I purchased our house across from the golf course in 1984. At that time there was a small restaurant and paddle tennis courts in Oak Hills Park and it was clear to everyone that the OHPA’s had been given the goal to see if it could operate a golf course that not only covered its costs but generated additional funds that could be used for other recreational purposes. That would be a win-win situation. Everyone, not only golfers, would gain. But the Authority has never been able to even cover the costs of the golf course. Rather, taxpayers have had to provide it with millions of dollars of grants some in the forms of loans that have never been paid back and are unlikely to be paid back. There are many private golf courses near Oak Hills Park that satisfy the demands of golfers. The golf course in Oak Hills Park, subsidized by taxpayers, unfairly competes with those golf courses and thereby undermines their ability to survive. That said, you and others who favor subsidizing the golf course in Oak Hills Park repeatedly make reference to where my husband and I live and suggest that we move. That can be considered a threat. And you make that threat without indicating who you are or where you live. That might be considered cowardly. I don’t hate golfers and I don’t begrudge them their love of the game. What I object to is their effort to have taxpayer dollars used to turn a public park into a golf course for a small entitled minority.

Amar October 26, 2017 at 3:33 pm

@Sharon {..}
Your words mean nothing!
my last name is Haouari
whats your last name?
So we can find out your connection….
Are you rascist?
Comment edited.

cc-rider October 26, 2017 at 4:43 pm

“What I object to is their effort to have taxpayer dollars used to turn a public park into a golf course for a small entitled minority.”

The golf course already existed in 1984 when you moved there so there has been no transformation from one thing to another. Do you consider all people who use the city’s sports venues (basketball, baseball, soccer, boat ramp, football, etc) “entitled” in the same way you do with golf?

John Williamson October 27, 2017 at 3:02 pm

I’ve been playing golf at oak hills park for a long time. The golf course is great but there is never any food available. The few times I have been to the restaurant I had a poor service and the food was okay. If Oak Hills wants to improve as a golf course get the operators out.

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