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Norwalk Oak Hills needs better management, not a driving range

By Paul Cantor

NORWALK, Conn. – In his recent letter, Fred Wilms, the chairman of the Board of Estimate and Taxation, wrote the “Oak Hills Park Authority (OHPA) needs additional revenues to stay alive” and then followed that statement by claiming the authority is financially viable. But if it is financially viable it doesn’t need additional revenues to survive.

Mr. Wilms then claimed that the driving range is “the most coherent” solution presented to solve the OHPA’s financial problems. But a driving range built and operated by a private concern intent on recovering its construction costs and earning a profit is highly unlikely to make any substantial contribution to solving the financial problems faced by the OHPA.

Mr. Wilms went on to contend that providing the OHPA with millions of dollars in low interest loans and then restructuring those loans again and again does not amount to a taxpayer subsidy. But, of course, that is not true. The OHPA could not obtain such favorable and forgiving terms on money borrowed from the private sector.

Finally, Mr. Wilms concluded: “We cannot risk losing this community gem.”

The implication of his conclusion is that without the driving range there will be no golf course and without the golf course there will be no Oak Hills Park. But it is not necessarily the case that without an additional source of income from a driving range the golf course cannot survive intact. And it is not true that without the golf course there would be no Oak Hills Park.

Indeed, if, as Mr. Wilms asserts, the OHPA can cover the cost of operating and maintaining the golf course, a good case can be made for allowing it to do so. However, if Mr. Wilms is wrong and the OHPA can’t cover the cost of operating and maintaining the golf course because the OHPA is not capable of managing it well and/or because there has been a decrease in the demand for spending 4.5 hours playing 18 holes of golf on a course designed for heavy hitters, then the course might be reduced in size and the land freed up as a result used for purposes appropriate to a public park. In short, there are many alternatives for Oak Hills Park that would balance the needs of all taxpayers.

So yes, as Mr. Wilms maintains, Oak Hills Park is a gem. It is a gem belonging to Norwalk taxpayers that would be badly scarred if a large driving range with its high ugly nets destroyed its only remaining nature preserve, further limited non-golfers access to the park, and generated additional traffic, noise and pollution harmful to the West Norwalk residential neighborhood in which it is located.

Paul Cantor

Comments

15 responses to “Norwalk Oak Hills needs better management, not a driving range”

  1. Joe Espo

    “…driving range with its high ugly nets destroyed its only remaining nature preserve, further limited non-golfers access to the park, and generated additional traffic, noise and pollution harmful to the West Norwalk residential neighborhood in which it is located.”

    Paul: you failed to exemplify how the driving range will destroy dozens of endangered species, accelerate global warming, devolve pestilence upon West Norwalk and heap death upon the populace!

  2. 0ldtimer

    In today’s HOUR there is a story about Golf courses built on Farmland in the midwest being bought back by the farmers and converted back to farmland because the crop makes more money than golf.
    Norwalk is not alone in having trouble keeping a golf course viable. Better management might help and makes more sense than trying to find an angel to build and operate a driving/practice range and pay the park enough to cure it’s problems.

  3. Suzanne

    Mr. Espo, you must be lonely. The only hold out against new management for the Course in order to make it successful. The cheerleader left out to dry for a non-starter that keeps trying to find oxygen, a driving range. Mr. Cantor makes valid points. Perhaps they are too valid for you to respond to with any coherence.

  4. David

    Paul, just a point of clarification: Oak Hills isn’t designed for “heavy hitters”. It’s not a particularly long course, especially with todays equipment.

    I’ve heard the suggestion that the course should be shortened, but I fail to see how that would drive revenue. You’d have to charge less, obviously, but avid golfers would split their rounds between a shortened course and a regulation size course, of which there are many in our area.

  5. Charles

    Mr. Espo is not the only one but is seems that the ones against the range and the managment team are the same cast of characters. Mr. Cantor must be running out of his own material he keeps posting the same letter anywhere it will be read.

  6. Tim T

    I hardly ever agree with Joe Espo but he is 100 percent correct in this case. Before money is wasted on an ugly driving range that will be a failure and destroy the property. The city many as well sell the property to help pay for the police overtime . . I know of a group that would love to build a Mosaic on it.

  7. I think there is a group who wants to build a MOSQUE on another piece of land, not this one….

  8. @Charles,
    Fred Wilms is a man on a mission to try to fool the public that the driving range is a “must-have” by the number of times HE has published the same letter “anywhere it will be read”.

  9. Tim T

    Irish Girl
    In as much as I am not a fan of the driving range ..Fred Wilms seems to have the same agenda in regards to the driving range as you do in regards to the Republican agenda ..Publish enough propaganda and hope some fool believes it.
    Also thank you for the spelling correction as it seems my speech recognition program has failed me once again.

  10. Tim T,
    I have no idea what delusional cloud of “republican agenda” you reference! You keep alleging my writings in regards to “the Republican agenda”!!! WOW, you seem to be reading gibberish because not once have I backed up ANY agenda, be it democratic or republican.

    Moreover, like you said, “publish enough propaganda and some fools believe it’ DING, DING, DING!! THAT is your mantra anywhere you can spout your propaganda regarding the police and ANYTHING anti-republican. You got that motto down to a science.

    As for the spelling correction, no problem!!! Glad to be of help!!!

  11. oh dear tim, you seem to misread or read into everything, don’t you?? NONE of these postings support the “republican agenda” as you state!!!

    *
    Wow, you go as far as trolling my past postings just for vindication but YET YOU GET NONE!! NO VINDICATION FOR TIMMY!!!
    *

    All I did on any one of these postings was to ask questions – UNLIKE YOUR postings which go as far as to state “filthy republicans” which CLEARLY indicates YOUR AGENDA!!
    *
    Sorry dear timmy, YOUR PROPAGANDA will always live on – but the people of Norwalk are waaaayyyy too smart to fall for your complete and utter nonsense. But please respond, I’m sure you can’t wait to sputter more “filthy” anti-republican spew…

  12. Tim T

    oh dear Irish Girl
    You seem to be attempting to cover your tracks now that you have been called out. You can post whatever you like in this attempt to change the facts however they are in black and white for all to see. The readers can make up their own minds to your agenda.
    Also you state “Wow, you go as far as trolling my past postings just for vindication”
    Not sure if you now the definition of a troll but clearly you do not as what I did was research which proved you propaganda agenda.

    Here is the definition for a troll for your education.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)
    Sorry dear Irish Girlie, YOUR PROPAGANDA will always live on – but the people of Norwalk are waaaayyyy too smart to fall for your complete and utter nonsense. But please respond, I’m sure you can’t wait to sputter more ” anti-democrat spew…

  13. Mark Chapman

    Editor’s note:
    And now the Tim T-Irish Girl back-and-forth personal attacks and insults end on this site. All further attempts at using this site to carry on in this manner will go directly to the trash.

  14. Suzanne

    Thank you very much, Mr. Chapman!

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