Norwalk couple: Save the birds, kill the trees

NORWALK, Conn. – A husband and wife duo are comically opposed in their opposition to the same Norwalk proposal, as evidenced by their testimony to the Oak Hills Park Authority last week.

After his wife, Diane Keefe, made a pitch to save the Oak Hills Park woodland because it is important to migratory birds, John Levin got up and said he didn’t give a damn about woods, deer or birds – kill them all.

“We have interesting conversations at home,” Keefe said.

Levin was one of three new faces mixed in with the usual suspects there to protest the idea of putting a range in the woods. Both Lawrence Shultz, a direct neighbor of the woods, and Monica Fitzgerald, a neighbor of the ninth hole as a North Taylor Avenue resident, protested the idea.

“As a teacher (in New Canaan) I feel you are missing an opportunity here to use the woodlands as a preserve for the Norwalk Public Schools,” Fitzgerald said. “I strongly oppose putting the driving range there.”

Levin’s objection concerned a different type of green – money.

“I am a professional investor,” he said. “I very frequently see people thinking they are making a good decision and then subsequently it turns into a bad decision. My biggest concern in Norwalk is that, as a homeowner and taxpayer, building the driving range and guaranteeing the debt that is incurred for it, which I am sure is going to be part of the package, is going to be a bad investment for the city of Norwalk.”

Oak Hills Park Authority Ad Hoc Driving Range Committee Chairman Ernie Derochers said in an email that is not the case.

“The city does not guarantee third party debt,” he said. “We will not be asking the city to do that here. The RFP (request for proposals) discussed making the proposal as green as possible and I can tell you this, each proposer went out of their way to do so. While I appreciate his comments, we are also taxpayers, too, and we would certainly not enter into a deal that was a bad  business and financial decision.”

Keefe had the more tree-huggery type of green on her mind.

“This is irreplaceable ecosystem for migratory birds, in the sense that there are no horses riding through it like there are in Cranbury Park,” she said. “There are not a lot of dogs being walked through it. It’s just a place where, after 200 miles of flying, they feel they can land and feel like they will not be attacked.”

Levin, who was wearing a Vote Steve Serassis T-shirt, said, “Bad decisions get made. I am here to encourage you to not make bad decisions, only make good ones. I am much less concerned – you can bulldoze all the 100-year old trees, kill the birds, the deer, I don’t care about any of that stuff.”


11 responses to “Norwalk couple: Save the birds, kill the trees”

  1. M Allen

    Uh, comments escape me on this one…

  2. Dana

    It is great to finally see other homeowners/citizens come out to speak about saving this valuable woodlands, wetlands, wildlife home. I know too many Norwalk residents who also share these sentiments but are either too busy trying to earn a living to support our high cost of living, taxes, etc. or are consumed with raising their families to come forth. I applaud The Friends of Oak Hills in their continued efforts!!

  3. EastNorwalkChick

    Does Mr. Levin live near the golf course? If not, I wonder how he would feel if they bulldozed every tree and shrub up to his property line….when all he would hear is the “thwack, thwack” of balls all day long and not those pesky birds chirping.

  4. EveT

    Maybe the financial argument is the one that will wake up Norwalk’s taxpayers. Think of the cost of bulldozing hundreds of gigantic trees, blasting the rock ledge, putting in drainage, getting permits to build next to the wetland, putting up extremely high nets because the driving range golfers would be standing at the top of a cliff to hit their balls. The steep wooded area is just plain unsuitable. As others have asked, how would the driving range management run a picker to retrieve the balls? Would they have to pay people to pick up the balls by hand?

    It would be vastly cheaper to put the driving range on golf course land that is already level. Why does Oak Hills Park Authority insist on continuing to consider the cliff/ravine/woodlands location? Is there some kind of backroom deal with that developer?

  5. Grendel

    Relax Eve. It isn’t the redwood forest. In fact their are super high voltage lines running through the place. This is hardly the nature preserve some are making it out to be here.

  6. Dana

    Grendel this is surely not part of a redwood forest as we aren’t in the State of California. BUT, it is one of the last remaining undeveloped peaceful wooded areas left in Norwalk for everyone to enjoy.

  7. Grendel

    No Dana. It is a golf course. You are not allowed to hit golf balls at Cranbury Park. No one walks in those woods except for a few freaks who derive their happiness from denying others theirs.

  8. Dana

    Sorry Grendel the entrance sign to Oak Hills states it is Oak Hills Park. Please take the time to read the sign if you haven’t already. As for calling Norwalk residents and other people freaks for walking in the woods that is just plain rude and self-centered. Try calling neighboring children and their parents freaks and I guarantee you will hear something from their parents.

  9. Grendel

    Keep in touch with yourself Dana. For every 1000 golfers, one person might walk back there. You don’t speak for any majority you think you represent. And yes, people who claim the environment is going to fall apart from a few acres of trees are freaks.

  10. Suzanne

    OK, Grendel. You have made your point. However, the way you have made it by derisive name-calling removes any credibility from your argument. It is called “trolling” and you seem to know how to do that on this thread.

  11. Debora

    It’s not about the signs, it’s about the charter. The charter is for a park, in which golf, tennis and other recreational activities are to be supported. There’s only about 10 acres left out of something like 170 for the “park” part of Oak Hills. It’s not unreasonable to ask that they be preserved.

    It is a public park with a municipal golf course on it, not a private golf course with some natural woodland that the pesky public is allowed to use.

    And it is really disrespectful to suggest that somehow golfers are more entitled to that park than other residents are or that those who want the park preserved are freaks.

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