NORWALK, Conn. – Mayor Harry Rilling said Wednesday he has not changed his mind about obligating Norwalk taxpayers for the estimated $2.5 million cost of building a driving range, of “golf learning center’” at Oak Hills Park Golf Course.
“I am not inclined to fund or pay for a driving range,” Rilling said. “Right now I don’t know if there’s even a proposal. I don’t believe there has been any request. But I have never been inclined to want to fund a driving range.”
In November, Norwalk Finance Department Director Tom Hamilton voiced his opposition to assumptions in the Oak Hills Master Plan, approved in October, that the city would not only loan the Oak Hills Park Authority nearly $3 million to complete its Master Plan, but it also would forgive $1 million in existing debt incurred when the current restaurant was built in 2005.
“The city, in addition to forgiving the $1 million debt, would issue new debt of $2,950,000 to finish the full Master Plan,” Hamilton said in November. “The issue for me is how certain are we that that issue is going to be paid for by golfers and not end up being repaid by Norwalk taxpayers?”
While some Council members expressed a willingness to forgive the debt, Rilling took a more cautious approach.
“We’ve forgiven loans in past,” he said, “but it might be more prudent to restructure the debt” to make it easier to pay.
“I’d like to look at that before we do anything else,” he said.