State set to OK $1.5M bond for Oak Hills project

HARTFORD – The State Bond Commission is poised to approve $1.5 million for the Oak Hills Park Master Plan, according to a press release from House Minority Leader Larry Cafero of Norwalk (R-143), but the project still has hurdles to clear before becoming a reality.

The commission, headed by Gov. Dannel Malloy, meets Friday, July 25.
According to the commission’s agenda, the money is to be used “to provide a grant-in-aid to the city of Norwalk for improvements to the Oak Hills golf course.

“The project will include the construction of a new golf learning center, a new nature learning center and other facility improvements.”

Oak Hills Final Master Plan

The total cost of the project, according to Oak Hills Park Authority (OHPA) figures, is $4.3 million. The driving range – or golf learning center – alone has been said to cost about $2 million.

Cafero said in the press release he was gratified that the item has been placed on the commission’s agenda, and thanked Malloy for his support.

“This is welcome news,” Cafero said. “A lot of people put a great deal of effort into this and now we can move forward to make this tremendous public asset an even better facility that serves thousands of people every year.’’

OHPA Vice Chairman Ernie DesRochers said, “We want to create greater uses for the park for everyone, not just golfers. This is great news because we now start implementing our Master Plan for the park.’’

Celebrations might have to be tempered, as the plan still must get approval from the Planning Commission and the Common Council. The Authority has said it will seek a loan from the city for the rest of the money. And while neither Council President Doug Hempstead nor Majority Leader Jerry Petrini responded Saturday to an emailed request for comment, Mayor Harry Rilling repeated the stance he has taken since before he was elected in November.
“I’m not in favor of taking on more financial obligations for the city at this time,” he said.


7 responses to “State set to OK $1.5M bond for Oak Hills project”

  1. Very Concerned

    The City of Norwalk needs to get its priorities in order.

    If the minority groups want an expanded golf course, they should build one in their own backyard.

    Why should Norwalk residents have to pay a 20% increase on property tax to support the golf course?

    Why isn’t Norwalk funding going to where it is needed most? For example, why not fund and rebuild the Norwalk YMCA? Doesn’t Norwalk care about the growth of its children, their well being, and the future of Norwalk?

  2. Betsy Wrenn

    Yes! The Norwalk YMCA was a terrific resource benefiting everyone, not just the ever dwindling number of golfers. Nathan Hale Elementary School depends on donated books to stock its library because of budget cuts. A cheesy driving range in a majestic public park is a shameful misuse of taxpayer dollars in these hard, hard times.

  3. piberman

    Proper procedure would have been for City agencies to approve the Oak Hills expansion before a Legislator announced the pending grant. But this is CT. Unless its a foregone conclusion that Master Plan has been approved already and approvals are foregone conclusions. Some might argue that there are far better uses of $1.5 million in Norwalk with all its many social needs than chasing golf balls.

  4. Mea

    I will not ever support this gross misuse of taxpayer dollars. This money should be going to the schools or NEON or other organizations that desperately need it. I will not ever set foot on this golf course again!

  5. TomReynolds

    Thank you Mea. We won’t miss you. Thank you piberman. We won’t miss you either. Same goes for you, Betsy.
    And . . . the YMCA is not a city organization.

  6. Suzanne

    Mr. Reynolds, The YMCA has received support from the State and City in the past and is a needed organization for ALL of Norwalk.
    Your attitude is unfortunate. Instead of engaging those who are understandably upset by this grant, you dismiss them. This kind of communication helps no one unless, I guess, it is solely for your satisfaction and not in aide to the golf course.
    Think about it: a rusted pol FELL onto Main and Wall Street just last week leaving heavy signal lights laying on a major intersection. Proper inspection was not performed because of budget and employee limitations.
    A point of argument right now concerns impassable and broken sidewalks due to infrastructure neglect and a lack of clarity about the regulations. Meantime the elderly and disabled cannot safely walk downtown.
    Can you understand that just these items might seem of greater concern than improvements to an already beautiful golf course available to just a few in Norwalk?
    People are justifiably disturbed by a grant going to Oak Hills when other urgent needs in Norwalk are neglected.
    So, instead of dismissing those who disagree with you, try to understand. I think everyone all around would not only appreciate it but you might find your opposition, or the OHPA opposition, more willing to be respectful as well even if they disagree.

  7. Very Concerned

    The taxpayers of Norwalk have no obligation to continue to subsidize the golf course at the present time and in the future.

    Any priorities to keep the golf course running are at the bottom of the list. An organization like NEON is at the top of the list.

    Be thankful you have a golf course that is presently subsidized by the City of Norwalk taxpayers and call it a day.

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