Bidder for Oak Hills practice range says he’s excited

Norwalk Oak Hills 042713 057
A golfer celebrates a successful putt at Norwalk’s Oak Hills Park golf course Friday.

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.”


5 responses to “Bidder for Oak Hills practice range says he’s excited”

  1. Suzanne

    Back to the future: isn’t Total Driving Range Solutions the previous bidder for the driving range who said in an article in The Hour that it would be better for the course and a cheaper installation if the driving range was located somewhere besides the selected OHPA location? This should be interesting: having had a thorough evaluation of the Course by a landscape architect, configuring the holes to adapt to a driving range elsewhere (read on a fairway) is going to be tough if not impossible. Good.

  2. EDR

    Diane Lauricella with her comments again shows why she and her friends are completely against the range. Instead of taking the OHPA at their word about considering an alternate site she says the group is not interested in alternate locations. My guess is if a site were found that met all of their criteria they would still be against the range . I would not expect anything else from her and her friends and certainly neither should tax payers.

  3. Suzanne

    I guess you would have to read the RFP to know that no other locations for a driving range site are being considered by the OHPA.

  4. Old timer

    One prospective bidder doesn’t have the money to build the range. isn’t a bond demonstrating the ability to do the job always part of an RFP for the city ? Does that mean he needs to find a partner before Wednesday ? it would be good if one of the bidders came up with a plan that would work without doing all the damage the favored location will require.

  5. Tim T

    Old timer
    How many times have we seen bidders (developer) that don’t have the money get the contract with this administration?

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