NORWALK, Conn. – Financing appears to be a major stumbling block for potential bidders to install and operate a practice range at Norwalk’s Oak Hills.
Oak Hills Park Authority officials differ slightly on the amount of bidders thinking of submitting proposals – one or two – but agree that financing is an issue. One said the deadline may be extended for the second time.
The latest deadline to submit bids to the park is 2 p.m. Wednesday. The deadline was originally May 1, but was moved back to May 22 to allow bidders more time to get their financing in order, said Ernie Desrochers, chairman of the Oak Hills Park Authority driving range committee.
The OHPA held a meeting last week that didn’t make it onto the calendar on the city’s website. Ardent driving range opponents Paul Cantor, Diane Cece, Yvonne Lopaur, Scott Kimmich and Diane Lauricella were the only non-authority members in attendance. There were no reporters.
Cece quoted Desrochers as saying there is only one bidder interested, a report Desrochers confirmed in an email.
“What I said was I understood that there was one potential bidder left and the reason the bid was extended was the fact that getting his financing together was taking longer then expected,” he said.
Shelly Guyer, executive director of the park, thinks there are two bidders.
“The issue that we’re hearing and, it’s not just from one, it’s from two of them, is they’re having problems getting financing,” he said.
Why the discrepancy?
“Different people hear different things,” he said.
Guyer said it would be up to the authority whether to extend the deadline again.
“They may grant it, they may not,” he said. “If nobody is going to put in a bid (because of the deadline) it doesn’t make sense to not give them time.”
None of this surprises Cantor, an economist.
“The more rent they charge, the higher percentage of the gross receipts they ask for, the lower profits of any private concern can earn, the more discouraged they will be from spending millions of dollars to construct a driving range,” he said. “That is an issue aside from the issue that the driving range will have large ugly nets. It’s in a park which has limited amount of acres, maybe not the best place for a driving range, aside from everything else.”
Correction, May 27, two names added to the list of people who attended the meeting.