NORWALK, Conn. – A “negotiation” with the state over $1.5 million slated for Norwalk’s Oak Hills Park has been downplayed by a state official as a technicality .
While Finance Director Thomas Hamilton said, in an email to vocal critic Paul Cantor, that the terms of the $1.5 million grant awarded by the State Bond Commission “are being negotiated,” Dave Stygar of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) said there was a discrepancy that needs to be cleared up.
The driving range proposed for Oak Hills Park is not part of the plan, Stygar said, despite Cantor’s suspicions.
Cantor sent an email to Hamilton requesting a copy of the $1.5 million grant. Hamilton replied, “Terms of the grant are being negotiated and it is still in draft form. When the document is finalized and the Mayor has signed it, then a copy of the grant document will be available from either the City Law Department or the City Comptroller’s Office.”
Since it’s a draft, it’s not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests, Hamilton said.
Stygar explained that, as the administrator of the grant, he needed to have the project scope’s defined. The description of the project as approved by the Bond Commission’s agenda was “very, very brief,” he said, calling that a standard practice. He needed more information, he said.
A personal services agreement was sent to the city, and returned, he said. Subsequently, he shared it with the Oak Hills Park Authority. It came back amended, he said.
The goal now is to line up the different ideas, he said.
“If you want to call it negotiations, it’s basically, we’ve defined the project scope,” Stygar said. “It’s in line with what the Bond Commission agenda approved but I just need to make the (authority), the city and the state all on the same page.”
What’s the scope?
“It does go along the master plan,” Stygar said.
Does that include a driving range?
“When we say it’s from the revised version at this point in time, that is not part of it, no,” Stygar said.
The state will not hand over $1.5 million without supervision, Stygar said. That just isn’t done; bills are submitted to the state and then paid, he said. The reimbursement process is a little complicated because it involves a city and an authority, but the idea is that it will be billed through the city but administered by the authority, he said. The authority will send bills to the state and then copy the city, he said.
No money will be spent until there is an approved contract, he said.
“We do the contract here, it is approved at the Attorney General’s office,” Stygar said. “The date the Attorney General signs off on it is the starting date for the contract.”