NORWALK, Conn. – The Oak Hills Park Golf Course, which has struggled over the past couple of years, will receive a $150,000 loan from the city to meet operating costs, a move that Norwalk Common Council members reluctantly approved Tuesday night.
The number of rounds played at the course has declined in recent years, and it is already saddled with debt service payments on a problematic restaurant on the property.
But the council voted almost unanimously to give the Oak Hills Park Authority the loan because without it, the course would likely have shut down before the summer.
And the city would still be on the hook for debt service payments with no revenue coming in.
Councilwoman Anna Duleep was the only vote against the loan. “If city is going to take a tough love approach with groups like Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now, we should hold the golf course to the same tough love standard.”
Several residents who spoke out against the loan agreed, stressing that the golf course can’t consistently meet its financial obligations. They said the city should take that as a sign that it might not be able to pay back the $150,000 loan.
“You’ve already restructured their other loans,” said Paul Cantor, who lives near the course and opposes the loan. “It’s highly unlikely the authority will be able to pay it back.”
“If we don’t do this, they will have to lay off people and we’ll have to close Oak Hills,” Councilman Michael Geake said. “Debt service will still be there whether we loan them the money or not.”
Oak Hills Park Authority member Shannon O’Toole Giandurco said that although mistakes were made in the past, the group believes it is turning the corner.
“We’ve learned from our mistakes,” she said.