NORWALK, Conn. – Faced with a cash crunch, the Oak Hills Park Authority has reached out to the city for a $150,000 loan to help it meet operating expenses, and Monday night the Board of Estimate & Taxation gave its preliminary approval.
The municipal golf course off Fillow Street, which has long struggled with its finances during winter when players are not teeing up, would take 10 years to pay off the loan at an interest rate of 1.55 percent.
The Common Council still needs to approve the plan at an upcoming meeting.
“It’s getting tighter and tighter every year,” said Pat Williams, treasurer of the Oak Hills Park Authority, concerning the course’s finances. “Our revenue has gone down a little bit each year.”
Revenues are down primarily due to a decrease in the number of rounds at the golf course in recent years. Five years ago, the course averaged between 40,000 and 45,000, rounds, but last year that number shrank to 35,000, according to Executive Director Shelly Guyer.
“We’re down about 500 adult resident memberships,” said Guyer, adding that the course plans to launch a marketing initiative in the coming months in an effort to boost the number of rounds and members. “That’s a tough nut to overcome.”
To help with generating revenue, the course has long sought to build a driving range on the property, a controversial matter that has met opposition from some residents. The range was not a topic of discussion Monday.
James Clark, the only member of Estimate & Taxation to vote against the loan, said he hopes the course can turn things around, but he would like to see a new direction.
“If you keep doing the same thing, we’ll find ourselves in the same situation,” Clark said. “We’re rooting for you, but you have to look at changing the model.”
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