NORWALK, Conn. – Preliminary decisions were expected Wednesday about the controversial proposal to put a driving range at Norwalk Oak Hills Park, but that didn’t happen.
The meeting of the Oak Hills Park Authority Ad Hoc Driving Range Committee was canceled. The agenda included “Discussion and approval of Driving Range proposals” and “Recommendation to the Authority for Action.” Chairman Ernie Desrochers did not know when it would be rescheduled.
Two proposals to build a practice range at the park were turned in by the June 5 deadline. Tad King of King Golf International proposed to use the location preferred by authority members, the woods behind the restaurant. Jim Downing of Total Driving Range Solutions said he had proposed to use an alternative location spelled out in an addendum to the request for proposal (RFP), near the sixth green and the cart barn.
Desrochers said in an email that committee members had not had the time to “digest all of the materials.” His work schedule has been “crazy” and committee member Clyde Mount is traveling, he said.
Although the agenda called for “approval of Driving Range proposals,” Desrochers said no decisions had been made.
Paul Cantor, an ardent opponent of putting a driving range in the woods behind the restaurant in the park, contacted reporters Wednesday afternoon to ask about the cancellation of the meeting, which was posted on the city’s website.
“Of course I am curious as to what is going on,” he said in an email. “The OHPA twice extended the deadline for receiving bids from private developers to construct a driving range. Nevertheless, it only received two bids and only one of them is to construct the driving range in its preferred location.”
He would like to see details of the bids.
“The primary justification given by the OHPA for soliciting bids from private developers to construct a driving range is that the money generated by the driving range will solve its financial problems,” he said in an email. “But unless the private developer pays a significant amount of rent to the OHPA and/or shares a significant portion of the driving range’s gross revenue with the authority, it is highly unlikely to contribute to solving the OHPA’s financial problems.
“So I think taxpayers and members of the Common Council should pay close scrutiny to the financial details of the bids the OHPA has received. The question they should seek answers to is: just how confident anyone can be that the driving range proposal will solve rather than aggravate the financial problems faced by the OHPA?”