Former Trumbull council member wants Tashua Knolls open for walking

TRUMBULL — With town parks closed and residents crowding the Pequonnock Valley walking trail, Mark Block is wondering why the most lush outdoor setting in town is off-limits.

Block is a former Town Council member and 2019 Planning and Zoning Commission candidate. Earlier this week, he sent a memo to First Selectman Vicki Tesoro expressing his desire to see Tashua Knolls Golf Course open for walking.

“Let’s get Tashua Knolls open for light, recreational walking only, nothing else,” he said. “After all, it’s a golf course, it was designed to have walkers on it. No golf, just walking along a designated ‘trail.’”

Tesoro rejected the idea, citing the safety of the course workers as her top concern. The groundskeeping staff remains on the job maintaining the course in playable condition so it will be ready to reopen for golf as soon as the coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

Even if every walker followed social distancing rules, their very presence would expose the staff to infection as people walked in proximity to workers, she said.

“This is a serious, potentially fatal illness,” she said. “I’m not going to put workers at a higher risk of exposure.”

Tashua Knolls features two courses, the 18-hole Championship course and the 9-hole Tashua Glen family course. The combined courses are listed at 8,724 yards in length — just under five miles if someone walked all 27 fairways. The fee for a round of golf on the 18-hole course ranges from about $30 for a resident on a weekday to $52 for a non-resident weekend round. The golf courses, along with all town sports fields and playgrounds, have been closed since March 13.

Block cited a news story about Meriden police using drones to enforce social distancing rules in Hubbard Park, an 1,800-acre space that features walking paths and a lake among its recreational facilities.

“Their residents can enjoy the open space they have while respecting the social distancing guidelines,” he said. “It is this type of creative thinking that can help ease the stresses on residents as the coronavirus pandemic continues.”

Block suggested Tashua Knolls could be transformed into a walking path with a few hundred dollars worth of lawn signs and some orange traffic cones. The signs would direct walkers along the golf cart paths, and remind them of social distancing rules. The cones, dropped in every other parking space, would prevent people from coming into close contact with each other in the course’s parking lot.

“Will it take stepping up to do what’s right? Yes, but let’s at the very least give it a try and open the widest space we have in town for passive walking use,” he said. “If it’s abused, close it down, but first give responsible residents the opportunity to be just that, responsible.”

Tesoro has been consistent that the best way to fight the virus is to remain home until health officials approve lifting the restrictions.

“I know it’s not what we want to do, and we’re all having to make sacrifices,” she said. “But the more we stay home, the sooner this can be over and we can start to get back to normal.”

And for those who want to get outside and enjoy a little fresh air, she suggested staying a little closer to home.

“We’re fortunate to live in the suburbs,” she said. “Walk around the yard, or walk around the block.”