Oak Hills Park Authority gives potential practice range bidders more time

Norwalk Oak Hills 121912 026
A golfer enjoys Norwalk’s Oak Hills Park in December.

Correction made, 9:26 p.m. May 2: No bids have been submitted.

NORWALK, Conn. – The deadline for bids on the opportunity to construct a practice range at Norwalk’s Oak Hill Park has been moved back to May 22.  No bids have been submitted, Norwalk Purchasing Agent Gerald Foley said.

The deadline had been 2 p.m. Wednesday. On Tuesday, the city issued an addendum extending the deadline to 2 p.m. May 22.

“We were asked by potential bidders to extend the submission because more time was needed to put their financing in place,” Oak Hills Park Authority driving range committee Chairman Ernie DesRochers said in an email. “Given the difficult nature of the capital markets and the concern by the friends of Oak Hills that bidders be appropriately capitalized, it was felt by the OHPA committee that we should grant the request.”

Outspoken practice range Paul Cantor critic is skeptical.

“I don’t know the reason for the extension,” he said in an email. “My assumption is the obvious one: the OHPA did not receive a bid that was acceptable even by the relaxed conditions stipulated in its RFP.”

Jim Downing of TOTAL Driving Range Solutions said last week that he was excited about submitting a proposal, but that he needed to line up a new funder.

Cantor remains skeptical that a practice range would do what OHPA is counting on it to do – get the park into the black.

“I don’t expect the extension will lead to them getting a bid that will show any promise of helping alleviate their financial difficulties,” he said in an email. “In other words, I doubt anyone will be willing to construct and operate a practice range on the proposed site by the restaurant and then agree to share a significant percentage of the revenue generated by the practice range (via rent and a percentage of its gross revenue) with the OHPA. My response to the process so far is that what we are witnessing is an example of the kind of special interest politics that works against the interest of the majority. As I have said before, the proposed driving range is as likely to contribute to the OHPA’s financial problems as to help alleviate them.”



5 responses to “Oak Hills Park Authority gives potential practice range bidders more time”

  1. LWitherspoon

    Mr. Cantor may be correct when he speculates that nobody would be willing to construct a practice range under the terms of the RFP. However it’s hard to know whether or not his opinion is influenced by his strong feelings against the project. How he can possibly say with any certainty that “the proposed driving range is as likely to contribute to the OHPA’s financial problems as to help alleviate them” when the results of the RFP are not yet known? Does anyone truly believe that we can rely on the driving range opponents for the best strategic advice for how to run the RFP to build a driving range?
    How many of the driving range opponents are Democratic activists? How many of the proponents are Republicans? I don’t have time to evaluate each statement for its truthfulness but I would like to know if this issue is being debated in a thoughtful, rational manner or simply exploited for election year gains.

  2. Joe Espo

    Well, whaddya know! Our Gov is touting the golf industry in Connecticut. He says it’s worth $1 billion. Didn’t the Gov get Paul Cantor’s memo?


  3. Diane C2

    The decriminalization of marijuana here begs the question – what is our governor smoking????

  4. Don’t Panic

    If capitalization is that iffy, better to kill the bidding process now, than to wait till someone has dug up the park only to have the financing fall through (or needing to be negotiated) and we’re left with yet another developer hole in the ground.

  5. oldtimer

    Apparently, building and operating a driving range, and sharing the revenue with Oak Hills, is not as exciting a business plan as some seem to think. There are plenty of capable, well financed, contractors who could build, but want no part of operating it and hoping to get back their investment, over a period of tme, out of PART of the revenue. By now, if properly managed, Oak Hills should have the reserves to build on their own and operate the range without sharing revenue with anybody. If they don’t, they can’t afford a driving range. Anybody check with any of the other ranges in the area on the reasonably expected revenue a driving range might possibly generate ? There used to be one on Ct Ave and it didn’t last because the land was worth a lot more for a different use.
    I am not a golfer, but have several in the family who play Oak Hills and the lack of a driving range has never been a problem. It is hard to imagine a driving range generating enough revenue to pay for itself and operating expenses, much less accomplish all that and show enough profit to make a difference for Oak Hills.

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