Quantcast

Letter: Oak Hills outreach shows Norwalk interest declining

To the Editor,

Rather than use all the revenue it takes in to service its debt and maintain the golf course the Oak Hills Park Authority made it clear at its last meeting that it now plans to use a portion of those revenues to fund an advertising campaign.

The purpose of the advertising campaign is to make golfers in the wealthier communities of Darien, New Canaan and Westport aware of the benefits of playing on a course subsidized by the taxpayers of Norwalk.

That, of course, should make golfers in those wealthier communities happy. And it stands to reason that local papers like The Hour won’t mind accepting money for the advertisements. But how will it sit with the average taxpayer of our city?

No doubt the average taxpayer would say that “if there are not enough golfers in Norwalk to make the 18-hole course in Oak Hills Park financially sustainable it is time to reduce the course to nine holes and use the land freed up as a result for some of the many activities favored by those who don’t play golf.”

But wouldn’t reducing the size of the golf course harm golfers? Not in the view of Jack Nicholas and other golf professionals. As the Golden Bear put it, for instance:

“Since 2006 we’ve lost 20 percent of the women and 20 percent of the kids in the game of golf. I mean that’s a horrible statistic…If that’s the case, why? Well why is because it takes too long. I mean my kids don’t play golf anymore or very little because they are spending time on the weekends with their kids playing little league, soccer, lacrosse, football, basketball, whatever it might be. They’re not playing golf. Those soccer games and those lacrosse games they take up a field for an hour, an hour and a half. So we’ve got to have a game that takes that amount of time. Everybody’s got 18 holes. Why [can’t it] be two nines holes. Why can’t it be two nines? [Or] three sixes. Everybody’s in a cart anyway. What difference does it make…You’ve got to figure out how to keep people in this stupid game. And the only way I know to go about it is to shorten the game from what it is.”

In other words reducing the size of the course might just be the way to salvage it. But even more importantly it would help turn Oak Hills Park into what it was always intended to be but that the members of the Oak Hills Park Authority disparage: a public park.

Public parks are assets meant to benefit all taxpayers. Golf courses are assets that benefit a minority of taxpayers. Hence, as Meredith Thomas, the director of San Francisco’s Neighborhood Parks Council put it, “continuing to invest in golf courses that are not financially self-sustaining at the cost of other urban recreation is completely unjustifiable.”

Paul Cantor

Comments

13 responses to “Letter: Oak Hills outreach shows Norwalk interest declining”

  1. Charles Brennan

    It seems like Mr Cantor has his own agenda and keeps putting the same letter anywhere he can get it printed. The great Jack Nicklaus also says in this edition of the letter that everyone is in carts which is not the case at most public courses. When was the last time Jack actually played a true public course he barely plays golf at all now he goes fishing. Non-Resident play helps make the course succesful it brings in more money to the course. The town of Norwalk also lets Non-Residents use the beach by charging them more should that be stopped also. One of the gripes that your group has had is that there is no marketing strategy to make the course work and now that they have a plan to do this you attack that as well. Paul why don’t you just give it a rest.

  2. Ken

    Should make a rifle range out of half of it. The area is saturated with Golf courses, not rifle ranges though. Of course its not going to happen, but if it did it would definately make the city money.

  3. Just for clarity, I think it is important to know that there is no budget or expense line in the city for Oak Hills maintenance. The way the city helps the park is through granting financing which the golfers and tennis players at the facility actually pay back to the city. So while it is a made up belief that the taxpayers of Norwalk pay for the facility, they in fact do not. It is only those who chose to play Tennis or Golf that do pay. On the flip side, these same people who are residents, also pay taxes and support the other 1215 acres of park land that the city does have a budget line and expense for. And they are not complaining about that.

    We are grateful to the City for their guidance and financing when we need them. But for the record, we are current and have not been forgiven any portion of the money that was borrowed. No burden on anyone other than tennis players and golfers at this time.

    As far as advertising, of course we feel it is the right thing to do, not only for the park, but for the taxpayers in Norwalk. Because there is no funding from the city, we are helping all taxpayers by trying to be successful. If we fail, that is when the taxpayers will bear the burden of this park. So if success means having others use our facilities and pay to play, doesn’t that help? Calf Pasture Beach, another in Norwalk’s park system charges for use and that revenue stream is pretty large and helps to offset the burden of maintaining such a great asset. They advertise and are fully run under the city.

    I am not sure why the attack on the Tennis Players and Golfers of Norwalk is so hot, but I will do everything possible to keep this course an 18 hole course, since over 80% of our revenue is derived by “18 holers”. And the lose of those revenues would be a travesty to Oak Hills and all the taxpayers of Norwalk.

  4. Tom Reynolds

    … It sounds like all (Cantor) wants is to screw the Oak Hills Park Authority at every turn. He wants to reduce the course to 9-holes?!?!??? Rediculous. I’ve hear that they have new people on the board as of this year. Let them do their job and increase the revenues for the park. From what I hear, the OHPA only has a loan from the city and the authority pays it back per the agreed schedule. So, it isn’t really “taxpayer money” that is funding Oak Hills. It is a loan. A loan that is being paid back. This guy talks like all the liberals on TV that we have to watch during every election.

    This comment has been edited to comply with our policy.

  5. Tom Reynolds

    After thinking about it a little longer and trying to figure out why Cantor is so negative toward Oak Hills, I seem to think that the Authority’s planned advertising campaign is a brilliant idea. One, it tells the surrounding communities that Norwalk has a first-rate golf course that they should check out and, two, it will generate more revenue for Oak Hills so that they can pay down their debt and make even more improvements to the park (not just the golf course).
    But then again, certain parties seem to only look at the black covering that surrounds the silver lining.

  6. spanner

    Ken you may not be far off the mark
    Norwalk does have a large gun and ammo corp in Norwalk located at the 501 Merritt 7 complex
    Winchester ammo and firearms maybe they would be a great sponser for the city its a large company. Olin Chemical made money for the city for years.

    http://www.winchester.com/Pages/Home.aspx

  7. Suzanne

    Tasteless and silly given recent gun-related events in this State. No conscious at all.

  8. spanner

    Suzanne I only brought this to the attention of Norwalkers that its here and has been for years.It was meant as parody.The gun discharge last night in a residential area of Norwalk was real and very serious something I follow all the time and wish it was taken as serious as my postings.

  9. Joe Optimistic

    @clyde mount

    If the golf course is self sustaining and all is well and the loans are being paid back to the taxpayers who are lending the OHPA money, then why the big push for out of towners to use the facility and….why the BIG necessity for a driving range that nobody, including the golfers of OH seem to want in the location that you propose?

  10. Oldtimer

    A little marketing with the right entertainment could draw evening crowds to the restaurant and that business should add to OPHPA’s bottom line.

  11. JIM DEERING

    MR. CANTOR PLEASE DO ALL OF US A VERY BIG FAVOR AND STOP WRITING
    YOUR COMPLETE INCORRECT ARTICLES ABOUT OAK HILLS. OAK HILLS IS THE
    JEWEL OF NORWALK. WITH THE NEW GREENS SUPERINTENT THE COURSE HAS
    BEEN IMPROVING OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS BECAUSE OF OUR NEW SUPER.
    THE GOLFERS THAT LEFT BECAUSE OUR PAST SUPER LEFT THE COURSE IN
    DISREPAIR.WHAT BETTER PLACE TO KEEP YOR REAL ESTATE VALUE UP THEN
    LIVING ACROSS THE STREET FROM A GOLF COURSE AS YOU DO.STOP THESE
    ARTICLES, YOU ARE SHOWING HOW FAR OUT IN LEFT FIELD YOU ARE…..

    .

  12. Suzanne

    Oh, please, Mr. Deering. Writing in all caps? This does not make your comment anymore effective or accurate. You might try doing your research BEFORE making comments in the future. At least Mr. Cantor supports his statements with verifiable source material. Your claims are just that and nothing more. If you WANT to make such statements, support them with facts as does Mr. Cantor and then maybe all of those CAPS can be proved legitimate.

  13. Debora

    The loans may not have been forgiven, but they were restructured, and the city does carry the loan, which gets figured into our overall debt load and borrowing costs.
    .
    It is correct that the taxpayer isn’t funding the park directly, but OHPA still needs to meet all of its legal obligations under the lease and the open space grant restrictions.
    .
    Has the soil been remediated from the tank leakage discovered last year?
    .
    Are you funding the capital account? Has the contingency reserve been replenished now that the bridge loan has been repaid?
    .
    Are you reporting to Parks and Rec every six months in writing now that you’ve initiated park improvements?
    .
    Here’s another thought for you, since there are real concerns about the funding for the driving range…you do not have to include investment income from any endowment that is funded by charitable donations in the “rent” calculations to the city….so how about setting up an endowment?

Leave a Reply


Recent Comments