NORWALK, Conn. – Despite the fears expressed by opponents of the possible Oak Hills Park practice range, at least one potential bid for the project is likely to gain the skeptics’ approval.
Jim Downing of Total Driving Range Solutions said Friday that if he can get a new funder, he’s going to propose a practice range in a location other than the one specified by the Oak Hills Park Authority in its quest to develop a new revenue source for the financially challenged Norwalk park.
Responses to the request for proposal are due by 2 p.m. Wednesday. Gerald Foley, the city’s purchasing agent, did not respond to an email asking if any had been received by Friday afternoon.
Representatives of three companies attended an April 10 pre-proposal conference at the course to get a look at the location.
OHP interim Director Shelley Guyer said he had heard there is a fourth company interested.
“We’re expecting at least three (proposals) based on the feedback we’ve gotten,” he said.
Driving range opponents say the location specified in the proposal, a ravine down a steep incline, strewn with boulders and bordered by wetland, is not a good place to attempt putting in a driving range.
Diane Lauricella said that, while the request for proposals mentions the possibility of putting the range in another location, the wording is a “wink-wink” andd authority members are not really interested in having it somewhere else.
While the RFP says, “It is critical that the environmental impact be as low as possible,” it goes on the say, “The OHPA has identified its preferred choice for the location — marked on the attached aerial. Other locations will be reviewed and considered, but in no way can an alternate location of the practice range negatively impact the current layout of the course.”
Lauricella said potential bidders read between the lines of an RFP.
“They used very scary wording that was kind of a hint,” she said.
Members of the Coalition of Norwalk Neighborhood Associations said last week that they would reach out to potential bidders to encourage them to propose a different location.
That won’t be necessary with Downing.
“We’ve got a great plan, I think, and we’re pretty excited about,” he said. “We put it in an alternative spot. We want to put it in a different location. I think it’s better for the golf course and I think it’s better finally for our client.”
Downing said, though, that his original client pulled out after the conference. He’s looking for a new funder and is confident that he’ll have one by the deadline, he said.
He’s keeping his proposed location to himself.
One of the other potential bidders, Yurly Strus of TurfPro LLC, did not return a phone call asking for comment.
Tad King of King Golf International said he isn’t sure what he’s doing.
“I’m weighing it heavily,” he said. “I’m not committed (to putting in a proposal) but I’m given it serious consideration.”