By the Oak Hills Park Authority
NORWALK, Conn. – Diane Cece sent a letter to city officials on Jan. 2 asking about various issues with the Oak Hills Park Authority. This is a reply from the authority:
Dear Ms. Cece,
This letter is in response to your Jan. 2, 2013 letter to the mayor of Norwalk and the Common Council. We hope the information that we are providing satisfactorily answers your questions and addresses your concerns regarding the Oak Hills Park Authority and its operations.
“Request for a forensic financial audit and a complete review of the Oak Hills Park Authority, its Chairman Robert Virgulak, and the park management team”
Our accounting records and controls are audited annually by an independent Certified Public Accountant. This detailed audit ensures that the records of the golf course fully meet generally accepted accounting principles. The authority also meets with the Board of Taxation and Estimate and the Finance Committee of the Common Council several times each year to discuss finances and business operations. Finally, monthly financial statements are reviewed in detail at our monthly meetings where not only the financial well-being of the authority is discussed but also its business operations.
“The selection and approval process of RM Staffing to take over the restaurant operation as a sub-lease of Quattro Pazzi”
The original lease with Quattro Pazzi gave them the right to sub-lease the restaurant with the approval of the golf authority. Under advice of counsel, we could not legally withhold approval of any qualified sub-lessee, especially since Quattro was and remains the guarantor of the original lease.
RM Staffing was selected by Quattro and at the time the sublease was presented to the authority, there were no public allegations or concerns regarding the proposed sub tenant and the Rye Golf Club. Based on the facts that were available to us, it was the judgment of the authority that the sublease be approved with RM as the new operator.
“The most recent contract for sub-lease on the restaurant”
As stated above, we could not legally withhold approval of any qualified sub-lessee that was presented by Quattro Pazzi. The two principals of AV Management LLC were vetted by our attorney and the authority, and were deemed qualified. We are confident they will provide the service we have been seeking from the restaurant. More importantly, Quattro Pazzi remains the guarantor of the original lease.
“Questions regarding the bidding processes used by OHPA”
The OHPA has always adhered to any bid process required for choosing vendors. If you have any specific information that this is not the fact we would be happy to respond.
“A missed loan payment to the city, and subsequent restructuring of debt”
We are not sure what your question is regarding this matter. Oak Hills Park is primarily a golf course and tennis facility. The park comprises approximately 11 percent of the total parks and recreation properties within the city. The current authority members were not involved in the decisions that ultimately led to the current debt structure of the authority. We are, however, responsible for ensuring the debt payments are made each year so the burden does not fall on the taxpayers of the city.
“Ambiguous and misleading monthly financial reports”
The financial reports issued at authority meetings are standard balance sheet and profit and loss statements that any business would issue and are prepared using generally accepted accounting principles. If you believe they are ambiguous or misleading, we would ask you to point out specifically what you mean.
“Behind-the-scenes meetings with prospective bidders for a driving range”
There is nothing that precludes the chairman or any member of the authority from meeting with potential vendors of the golf course for informational purposes. To date, there have not been any ad hoc driving range committee meetings that would require public notification.
“Park vendors are reportedly being paid 60-120 days late”
While Mr. Guyer did indicate that a small percentage of bills were paid late during the year, he also stated that none of the vendor relationships had been jeopardized.
The Oak Hills Park Authority