NORWALK, Conn. – An ad hoc committee of the Oak Hills Authority on Tuesday began putting together a request for proposal for a new driving range at the public golf course, but not before at least one angry resident claimed the committee was out of bounds.
Committee Chairman Ernest Desrochers, a member of the authority, said the committee is simply putting together a document to gauge interest among developers and operators of the potential driving range, and that the public will have ample opportunities to comment on the plan.
“No one here will be bullied,” Desrochers said during a heated exchange with West Norwalk resident Paul Cantor. “We’re looking to make the course economically viable, and we want to open a dialogue with the neighbors.”
Cantor, who opposes the driving range, interrupted Desrochers on several occasions to read a lengthy statement that putting out an RFP is a mistake, in part because he believes more public comment is needed. “You have a responsibility to see that the park becomes more accessible to people who do not play golf,” said Cantor, adding that the secluded section where the driving range may one day rest could be used for “passive recreational use.”
Committee members said they are willing to consider all options for the driving range, the idea for which has been kicked around city government for more than 20 years. A driving range at Oak Hills on Fillow Street was even included in the city’s 1999 Master Plan.
“This is the first step in many to getting this done,” said Desrochers. “Your input is very important.”
The committee plans to place the draft of the RFP on the city’s website and hold a public hearing on it on Feb. 12.