NORWALK, Conn. – A largely ceremonial Common Council effort to endorse preserving the Oak Hills Park woodlands failed this week.
The non-binding resolution proposed by Councilwoman Anna Duleep (D-At Large), who has described herself as a “lame duck” because she is not running for re-election, failed on a 10-5 vote.
That was after two paragraphs, which some council members objected to, were removed. Those would be paragraphs four and five, referring to OHPA Chairman Bob Virgulak and the $150,000 loan the city gave to Oak Hills.
(See resolution attached below)
The resolution called on the council “to ensure the 7 to 10 acres of pristine woodlands located near the restaurant parking lot inside Oak Hills Park be declared protected open space in perpetuity.”
Some council members said there is already open space in Cranbury Park and cautioned against the danger of walking in an area in which golf balls are flying. Others said it was a matter of process.
The sentiments expressed:
“I wanted us to take a stand, knowing that a lot of this had happened under our watch, but to encourage the future council coming in and also the Conservation Commission to act on this.”
Fred Bondi (R-At Large)
“I don’t agree with it. This is a golf course. You want to make it open space. People are playing golf our there, golf balls are flying all over the place. People are in danger of getting hit by a golf ball. … What’s next? People walking around ball fields when a game is going on, which they want to do already here at City Hall.”
Doug Hempstead (R-At Large)
I find it interesting that we talk about process. … If we want something to get done on a body of 15 then we need to talk to each other, collaborate with each other, come up with an idea, see if it’s worthy. I’m going to be voting no just for the fact that it hasn’t achieved any of that. For us to make assumptions without even having the Oak Hills Park Authority to talk about what they want to do, let alone Land Use – I think it’s important that anything like this have the proper discussion at the committee level, in whatever form it’s in, not at our full council meeting with no prior collaboration with anybody else.
David Watts (D-District A)
“To say the residents of West Norwalk should travel to Cranbury I think is ridiculous. … Anyone should feel that they can walk in their neighborhood with trees and fresh air.”
Bruce Kimmel (D-District D)
“We should not create the impression that if this resolution were to be passed more people would be using these trails. Nothing is inhibiting them from using these trails. … The question is, what do they call it, the 800-pound gorilla or whatever, the driving range. It’s not a done deal, no one knows where we’re going with that yet and a resolution like this could make it difficult for the Authority to do what it needs to do.”
Nick Kydes (R-District C)
“Do you want to put people in harm’s way of a golf ball by leading them to think they have the right to walk freely on a golf course? They don’t. It’s a golf course.”
Carvin Hilliard (D-District B)
“It should have gone to committee. … People can investigate any questions they might have. When it comes in front of the council everyone is informed … that’s why we have the committee structure.”
Duleep said in reply that the committee option was great if you are a committee chairman, but that every council member had a right to submit a resolution for discussion by the full council. This way everyone was on record with a vote, she said.
Voting against the resolution were David McCarthy (R-District E), Jerry Petrini (R-District D), Michelle Maggio (R-District C), Michael Geake (D-District B), Sarah Mann (R-District C), Hillard, Kimmel, Bondi, Hempstead and Kydes.
Voting for the resolution were Warren Pena (D-At Large), Matt Miklave (D-District A), John Igneri (D-District E), Watts and Duleep.