Council asked to turn down Oak Hills plan

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To the Editor:

The following is a copy of a letter sent to the Common Council and copied to the media by Paul Cantor and signed by several other Norwalk residents.

Dear Members of the Common Council:

The Oak Hills Park Authority is seeking your approval for a document euphemistically called a Master Plan that is really nothing more than a request for taxpayer subsidized loans to construct a large commercial driving range euphemistically called a golf learning center and upgrade the 18-hole golf course it manages.

Any money to upgrade the course should come from the user fees of those who play it and not from additional taxpayers subsidized loans.  And as a lawyer hired by taxpayers pointed out in 1999 the zoning Regulations of the City of Norwalk do not permit a large commercial driving range at Oak Hills Park because its associated lights, noise and traffic would undermine the residential quality of the AAA zoned residential neighborhoods bordering the park.

Furthermore, recently many of you claimed that it was primarily out of concern for the traffic it would generate that you opposed the construction of a mosque on Fillow Street by the Al Madany Islamic Center.  Hence, if you now agree to approve construction of a large commercial driving range whose very purpose is to generate traffic from golfers from surrounding communities as well as Norwalk your opposition to the mosque will be viewed as hypocritical.

In summary, by approving the OHPA’s plan to construct a large commercial driving range you will be disregarding the impact the traffic associated with it will have on the integrity of the AAA zoned residential neighborhoods bordering the park.  And as a consequence you will be undermining Norwalk’s reputation as a city governed in the interest of all its citizens without favoritism toward or prejudice against any well- organized minority of them.

Therefore, we respectfully ask you to vote against the OHPA’s Master Plan and to call for a genuine Master Plan for Oak Hills Park that is drawn up with the participation of all Norwalk taxpayers.

Betsy Bowen

Paul Cantor

Lynne Coll

Diane Keefe

Scott Kimmich

Yvonne Lopaur

George McGuire

Nancy McGuire

Kate Tepper

Suzanne Ste. Therese

George Wolfe

Bill Wrenn


12 responses to “Council asked to turn down Oak Hills plan”

  1. DeeeeMoooo

    Same old song from the guy that euphemistically claims to represent a majority of Norwalkers

  2. Kevin Di Mauro

    Paul + 11

    Please include me among your supporters. Commercial activities in residential zones should be outlawed even in city owned parks.

  3. EveT

    @DeeeeMoooo, have you read the Oak Hills master plan that is available for download from the Oak Hills Golf site? Can you find where the document states how much money is going to be paid to the driving range developer? Can any Common Council members find this? Can the city’s budget director find this?

  4. Tom Reynolds

    EveT – There is nothing about how much money is going to be paid to the developer because that is no longer a point. The developer (whoever that me turn out to be) will get paid only for construction and development costs. The OHPA plans to manage the facility once built. You are using old, false data and accusations. If your people would get your facts straight you might have an argument. But, then again, if your facts were straight you would be siding with the OHPA.

  5. EveT

    @Tom Reynolds, it is exactly the “construction and development costs” for the driving range developer that I’m asking about. The master plan document does not say how much $$ this is going to be. Does it?

  6. Suzanne

    So, where are the production and development costs going to come from if not the city? A loan? I have heard batted around the sum of over 4 million dollars to pay for this playground for golfers.

    The OHPA maybe managing the facility after it is built but not before TDRS gets its hefty share of profit for constructing the darn thing. That’s business.

    That’s golfing in Norwalk, a town that can afford to throw millions to a recreation for the few while other more necessary needs go wanting.

    Where is the conscious of the OHPA? Stuck in a hole somewhere where all they can see are the fantastic renderings of a driving range made possible by the very company that created the master plan. Conflict of interest? You bet!

    Why can’t OHPA do it right? Why does Norwalk have to support the fast track that does not go through the public park process of every Master Plan? Why no public comments on that process as is required?

    Just like many stop signs in Norwalk, the OHPA treats the Charter as a suggestion.

    City needs? No problem. The OHPA is ready with nontransparent numbers to ensure they always get what they want. No support at city Hall? No problem! Get a retiring State Representative to vouch for the additional state funding of 1.4 million. Environmental pollution? No problem. Just don’t test for polluted runoff into adjacent waterways headed for the sound. And it goes on and on.

    The vocal minority of golfers want what they want. They are spoiled. As long as they keep having tantrums, well, they seem to be getting their way. Another boondoggle in the Norwalk finance schemes that creates havoc for the rest of the city.

  7. Wineshine

    @Kevin, the restaurant and golf course ARE “commercial activities”. The range is an extension that will be utilized by the same people that are using the course now. I can’t understand how some think this will be some sort of Woodstock-like venue with thousands attending.

    As for the noise issues, if you have never been to a driving range, you should stop by Sterling Farms and hang for a bit. You’d be amazed at how quiet these places are. Golfers are concentrating on their swing, not disrupting your lives. It’s not a party.

    As for the financial issues and the talk about this being a “playground” for a few golfers, how much money has the city spent on the bike lanes that seem to be everywhere now? I’d venture that there are more golfers living in Norwalk than cyclists.

    Of course, none of this will matter to those who say NIMBY. Nor will it matter to those who don’t play the sport. Let’s not confuse them with the facts.

    Here’s a thought: How about the NPD enforcing traffic laws and citing illegal right turns on red, failure to signal, tailgating, cutting through lots to avoid red lights, and illegal parking? The enhanced revenue from fines would solve all financial issues, and make this city a better place to live. Why don’t some of you choose to deal with the city’s real problems instead of this benign, easy target?

  8. Suzanne

    Wineshine, your parallel arguments have nothing to do with the facts. The restaurant as a “commercial activity” is used by far more than the golfers. If they were the only ones using it (the owner couldn’t even get the golfers IN the place at first due to lingering resentments that it existed at all), there wouldn’t be one at all. Look at the parking. Far fewer can use the restaurant as a venue then a multiple bay, two story structure for practice.

    The fact that Norwalk has used money for bike lanes? Check the books. Not even close to the ask the OHPA is requesting for “practice”, an unnecessary prelude to playing golf (yes, I have played and loved it.) Historic courses don’t have driving ranges at all and people still play them.

    NIMBY has nothing to do with it – financial priorities in Norwalk do. There is nothing more frustrating than to see millions being put to a recreation enjoyed by an exclusive few over the greater needs of Norwalk. It just doesn’t wash.

    And, again, totally unrelated: try out the cost of having an NPD officer on every corner to “catch” those who do not obey, what was it, stop signs, left turns on red? Literally, I am guessing, thousands extra would have to be on patrol for your solution to work. Nothing to do with the OHPA, nothing to do with the golf course. A specious (and very expensive) argument at best.

    No NIMBY – just priorities and practicalities for EVERYONE in Norwalk, not just golfers.

  9. Kevin Di Mauro

    The restaurant was a mistake and has been a financial flop as evidenced by the number of people who have tried to run the place and the tardiness in rent payments.

    It appears their current liquor license only allows serving beer and wine. Wait until they try to modify this to a café license which will allow them to turn the place into a night club.

    My apologizes to Mike Greene and Mike Wrinn who insist there is no such thing as a night club in the legal world. It will be a restaurant that will serve a full range of alcohol until 1:00 am on weekdays and 2:00 am on weekends. It will be allowed to have live entertainment such as a D.J., dancing, live bands, etc.
    Sure sounds like a night club to me.

    Let’s not forget those 2:00 am bar fights with police sirens blaring through the neighborhood.

  10. Tom Reynolds

    What a bunch of jokers. I hope when the Common Council passes the Master Plan tonight that all present can laugh as you exit the hallway.

  11. Suzanne

    TR, Typical of the rude, ill-mannered, disrespectful group called “golfers” at a public meeting. I hope you are so very proud. Children would not act as you and your group do. Shame on you.

  12. Amanda

    @EveT asks a thoughtful question which Tom can only respond to with the mentality of a 16 yr old child. Way to be, Tom.

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