Norwalk Oak Hills driving range negotiations continue in background

One heck of a shroom sits in the woods at Oak Hills Park.
One heck of a shroom sits in the woods at Oak Hills Park.

NORWALK, Conn. – The process to put a practice range at Oak Hills Park is continuing out of the public’s view.

One bidder, Jim Downing, is making his pitch to put a practice range in a less-than-visible spot at Oak Hills Park, where the sound of golfers whacking away won’t bother people like Lawrence Shultz and Michelle Winthrop. 

His competitor, Tad King of King Golf International, did not return an email requesting comment.

Downing said he has a “gut feeling” that a decision will be made by the authority in August.

Discussions regarding the two proposals are taking place by telephone, Oak Hills Park Authority Ad Hoc Driving Range Committee Chairman Ernie Derochers said last week. Downing confirmed that Tuesday, saying he had gotten the latest round of questions – all of a financial nature – just a half hour earlier.

Derochers’ report at the meeting lasted about a minute. He said Norwalk Purchasing Agent Gerald Foley and Management and Budgeting Director Bob Barron had been in a series of conference calls before July 4 between him, committee member Clyde Mount and the two bidders. The bidders had been given three weeks to submit revised proposals, which they did. Mount had been away, and he expected to make progress on it this week. He said he expected to have much more to talk about at the August meeting.

Downing said the discussions concerned the revenue sharing with the city and the financing.

It would take him between four to six months to build a practice range in his preferred location, behind the cart barn near the first tee, he said.

“I think it works,” he said. “I think it’s sort of hidden, so it’s not in somebody’s back yard.”

That would suit Winthrop, a neighbor whose home is directly behind the other proposed location, in the woods.

It was quiet on Twin Ledge Road Saturday, with no sound of I-95, which Winthrop attributed to the woods.

Shultz, another neighbor, came to the authority meeting for the first time last week.

“I’ve taken walks in the woods,” he said. “It just seems, just from my naïve, uneducated understanding, that these woods are a bad place to put a driving range. I think it’s a bad idea and I am opposed to it.”

No one spoke in favor of that proposal at the meeting.

Downing said he is excited about offering a facility to Norwalk youth. He mentioned that Connor O’Brien, a Brien McMahon High School  junior and vocal supporter of a driving range, recently won the Connecticut Junior Amateur Golf championship, and 17-year-old  Norwalk native Jacob Henny is competing in the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship.

His range would have heated bays and could be open in February, he said.

“We want it to work for the community,” he said.


2 responses to “Norwalk Oak Hills driving range negotiations continue in background”

  1. piberman

    Everyone knows that the driving range is going to be built – it has administration and Council support. What’s really interesting is the Oak Hills Restaurant under new management is attracting a strong following of new patrons. I urge everyone to go have lunch, dinner, do happy hour – the views are spectacular and its nice and quiet ! Its one of Norwalk’s great delights.

  2. Suzanne

    Say good bye to the “nice and quiet” of the restaurant if the driving range is erected in the serene and buffering woods.

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