“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?
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?