By Scott Kimmich
NORWALK, Conn. – Hayden “Bud” Taylor scoffs at the trees in the area where the Oak Hill Park Authority wants to build a driving range, in his July 29 letter to The Hour: “They do little to enhance the environment. Granted there are some wonderful trees that would have to be sacrificed, but their removal would allow the sun to cause better growth in the lower part of the area and eventually we would have a better buffer as a result.”
A better buffer from what? Right now there is a beautiful woodland that needs no buffer. It is an environmental asset, not a liability, and should not be “sacrificed.”
Presumably, Mr. Taylor means a buffer to hide the hideous sight of poles and nets at least 50 feet high, around a range that does absolutely nothing to enhance the environment and does everything to ruin it. Moreover, the planned range leaves no room for a true buffer, and how long would the neighbors have to wait until the so-called buffer “eventually” forms? Like the animals displaced by the range, those neighbors will have long moved away.
Take the wetland that Mr. Taylor describes: “… a pond only when we have heavy rain.” This is not factually accurate. The pond is a typical seasonal New England wetland that wanes in the summer when there is less rainfall overall. As such, it contributes a valuable ecosystem to our environment. That is why wetlands are protected throughout the state, and that is why the diehards on the OHPA are not going to have their way. Their plan is an environmental disaster.
Only two contractors have bid on the driving range. One refuses to build on the woodland site because it is environmentally and financially unsound. This contractor specializes in building and managing driving ranges and is well aware of the problems of siting them.
What about the only other bidder, the one who would trash the woodland? Most of his more limited experience is building golf courses, not driving ranges, and recently he has been concentrating on building them in Egyptian deserts. Where is his environmental concern? Where is his conscience?
Let’s be clear, once and for all. A driving range is not an environmental paradise. And if, as has recently happened in Norwalk, we go through the trouble of demolishing an area only to find that the developer has weaseled out, we are stuck with a mini environmental disaster motivated by self-interest and fuzzy thinking.
Come on, citizens of Norwalk, are we going to let ourselves be taken for another ride?
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