Old Deed Puts Snag in Thompson Park Townhouse Proposal

Old Deed Puts Snag in Thompson Park Townhouse Proposal

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A 100 year-old deed could impact a deal involving land in Thompson Park..

A developer is looking to buy and fix up the Watertown Golf Club.. that's the not problem... The problem lies with what he wants to do with a section of it..

When developer Mike Lundy told Watertown City council his concept for buying and fixing up the Watertown Golf Club last Monday, part of it included building townhouses.

"Our hopes is that the townhouse profitability would help offset some of the redevelopment costs of the golf course," Lundy said at the council work session.

Since the city owns half of the land at the golf course, Lundy's proposal is to buy the other half and trade it in exchange for a 15-acre plot of land, where the townhouses would go.

But that plan could hit a bump, thanks to a deed from 1917.

When the original park property was donated to the city by George and Alice Sherman, the deed's language stated that the land "shall never be used for any other purposes than a public park."

"There's definitely a restriction there that I don't think can be overcome," said council member Cody Horbacz.

And if that land is developed into something different, it would revert to George Sherman's heirs or assigned people.

"I don't think anyone has the appetite to do something that would lose the public park or damage Thompson Park in any way," said council member Mark Walczyk.

However, other land in the park could be developed.

"There are two other parcels within Thompson Park that were donated to the city at different times," said Horbacz. "Those two areas do not have the same restrictive language on the deeds."

But if Lundy wanted to develop town homes on another plot of park land, there would still be hurdles.

State Legislature would need to approve his lease and Lundy's asking for almost 100 years City Attorney Robert Slye said based on past experience, state lawmakers would likely not allow a lease of more than 25 years.

See memo and part of the deed from City Attorney

And as for a simple swap of land, it's up in the air as to whether that would be approved.

We reached out to Mike Lundy, who released a statement saying the proposal was just that, t's not a plan that's set in stone. That includes the proposed location. (Read Lundy's full statement below)

LUNDY STATEMENT

Note: Comments Michael Lundy Following Recent News/Stories Regarding the Proposed Purchase of the Watertown Golf Club:

First, The Proposal that was put forth before the City Council on Monday, February 26th was the first step in making city council aware of our "concept" and not a formal application. The designs and concepts that were presented are in no way final for the golf course plan, the club house, the pro shop, the events center, and the proposed Townhouses. The Meeting was a Work Session and meant to introduce and look for feedback. I was not there looking for approval etc. Everything is subject to change as we go through the process. Given the history of the Golf Club and the Park, I wanted the process to be open and transparent from the beginning.

Second, there has been discussion of Deed restrictions and the issues relating to that, especially to the proposed Townhouses. We were and are aware of covenant and use restrictions at Thompson Park. In fact, there are actually Three Different Deeds that we know of, and that seem to have conflicting covenants. That is what the whole process will determine…what is allowed where etc. The proposed Townhouse location is not set in stone, nor has it been. This is part of the whole process, which I clearly stated at the Work Session.

Third, the focus of the conversation and media has been on the negative potential of the townhouse part of the project. Everyone is missing the overall main purpose and positive of the plan, which are the growth of the Watertown Golf Club, redeveloping the course, the facilities, and creating a new event center. Most importantly the land donation would result in the addition of the 50 plus net acreage of land for the Park and its long-term protection. In terms of the townhouses we purposely put them at a location that they would only be seen from the course and not the park itself.

Finally, the Watertown Golf Club has been a contentious and complicated story line that precedes this current proposal. It's obvious that no matter who is involved with the acquisition of the Watertown Golf Club there are a "few" out there that would like nothing more than closing this club down, for their own personal gain.

In Addition, David L Mosher, Spokesperson for the Watertown Golf Club, added:

“As a spokesperson for Watertown Golf Club, I can say that while the "Townhouse Concept" in the future is not a part of our agreement, we are certainly excited by its prospects for the future of the Park and the Club.

We are also excited by his plans for a new year around restaurant (both an enhancement for the Club and Park visitors), an improved course design that brings the break between holes nine and ten back to the new clubhouse and the new driving range and parking areas. All this and more will make the Club an exciting part of the whole Park experience all year long.

There are several ways we can proceed with Mr. Lundy, some involving the City and some that do not require City approval. We (WGC) and Mr. Lundy have chosen a structure that all felt would be the most attractive for all stakeholders, meaning our club stockholders, members, customers, City taxpayers and Park visitors. Should Mr. Lundy want to take another look at structure, we are certainly open to that also.

Regardless, WGC is open for business this year and will be for years to come. We know we are an important part of the City's business and recreation life in this region, and hope all is resolved in a manner that works best for all.”

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