Golf in Norwalk: Oak Hills Idea Merits a Thumbs Up
Oak Hills Golf Course
Norwalk Golf Professional
Property owners are rightfully enthusiastic about protecting the biggest financial investment of their lives whenever it's threatened, but often they are looking so hard at the trees they don't see the forest.
A case in point is the Oak Hills Authority proposal for improvements to the city park and golf course. In this case, area property owners opposed to the plan may have teed off out-of-bounds.
While I haven't studied the details of the plan, Oak Hills certainly needs the improvements that the long-awaited new restaurant and the much-needed driving range offer.
Homeowners Fear Change
Homeowners commonly fear change, virtually any change! While others look at change from a general view, homeowners are likely to suffer nightmares from the uncertainty of any new proposal.
When they move into a neighborhood, residents expect it to remain unchanged forever; they don't want anything they may perceive as a threat to their property values or to the residential flavor of their neighborhood. Certainly, when there's open space, they prefer to keep it that way.
For the record, I am not a resident of Norwalk. I live in Darien. But, I am a former Norwalk resident and a graduate of Norwalk High School. Also, I've worked here for many years. As an Hour newspaper reporter in the '70s covering planning and zoning, I witnessed many homeowner objections to a wide variety of real and imagined threats to their neighborhoods in Norwalk.
Often, I've observed, the fears of homeowners are unfounded. The changes they believed would be harmful to their property values often proved instead to be beneficial -- witness current real estate prices.
Oak Hills Impacts the Entire City
Oak Hills has an intimate impact on residents of Fillow Street and surrounding neighborhoods, of course, but its greatest impact is on the entire city and even Fairfield County. Contrary to what its critics have charged, proponents of the Oak Hills plan are not a vocal minority; rather, they are residents, officials and neighbors who want only what's best for Norwalk -- and for Norwalkers.
Naturally, people who play golf want a local golf course that has all the facilities that make the game enjoyable, including a decent, convenient, well-planned restaurant and a driving range that will save them a trip to Stamford, Ridgefield or Fairfield.
A Broad View of Community
If we are to live in a civilized world, it is important that we take a broad view of our communities on every level -- local, state and national.
Could society survive if all of us insisted that our tax money go only for the things that benefit us personally, or that we agree with philosophically?
When we are young, shall we refuse to pay for Social Security for the elderly? As we age, shall we refuse to pay taxes for schools or playgrounds because we no longer have children? If we're not ill, shall we refuse to allow government to spend our tax money trying to find cures for deadly diseases? I think not.
A suggestion to homeowners around Fillow Street who object to the Oak Hills plan: Tee it up again -- and see if you can't hit one straight down the middle!
I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on May 20, 1999.