Simao: ‘I won a battle’ over parking lot

Updated: Dec. 3, 2019 at 2:08 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Watertown City Council's reversal on the parking lot next to the Watertown Golf Club in Thompson Park is a win for the owner of a competing course - so says Ives Hill owner PJ Simao.

Simao argued the parking lot was another way the city was helping to create an unfair playing field when it comes to 2 separate city golf courses.

"I won a battle. I didn't win a war. I don't know what is ahead of us," he said.

The battle is over a parking area next to the Watertown Golf Club, an area owned by the city, but was being used by park golfers. Back in June, city council voted to make the lot public - a gift from the city to his competitor, says Simao.

'I think when they did that June 11, they did it rather haphazardly and I think they were ill advised on what they were doing at that point in time. I believe it was done to kind of facilitate the Watertown Golf Club's operation through the summer. I give a lot of credit to Mr. Horbacz, Mr. Henry-Wilkinson and Ms. Ruggerio for doing the right thing," said Simao.

Two hours before Monday night's city council meeting, a resolution to reverse the June 11 decision was submitted and supported at the meeting by council members Cody Horbacz, Ryan Henry-Wilkinson and Lisa Ruggerio.

"So many people were questioning why the city was doing this and believed it really was benefiting the golf course when the public wouldn't really have much use for it given were it was located," said Henry-Wilkinson.

"I think instead of sort of trying to steam roll this through I really think that we need to take a pause and really research a lot of questions we have," said Ruggiero.

With the decision, the parking area won't be available to golfers. However, council says owner Mike Lundy has another way.

"Last night we told him via this action he should build a property on his own property, which he has stated more than once he is happy to do," said Henry-Wilkinson.

As for the war, Simao says he will continue to fight. That includes his claims the agreement the golf club has with the city, leasing 9 holes of golf, is void and the assessment of Watertown Golf Club's privatelly owned land is assessed much lower than the land Ives Hill Country Club sits on.

But as for council agreeing further with Simao, Henry-Wilkinson said, "Until a judge says otherwise, that's a valid contract."

A last minute reversal by a city council that is about to change in the new year, the mayor says the issue of the parking lot could come up again in 2020.

"The new council, the new mayor, they can provide a new direction on that and rescind the new resolution we just rescinded. The new council will be left to decide how they want to handle that whether it's a public parking lot or not," said Mayor Joe Butler Jr.

Simao and the city remain in litigation over some of the remaining issues.

Simao says the next court date comes up in the middle of January.

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