Simao threatens to sue Watertown over land at Thompson Park

Updated: Aug. 14, 2020 at 12:00 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Developer P.J. Simao says he could sue the city of Watertown. He and his lawyer are questioning if Watertown is following the rules when it comes to a little piece of land at Thompson Park, right near the Watertown Golf Club.

The land in Watertown's Thompson Park might not have much going on some days. But on days when there are big events at the Watertown Golf Club, it's filled with cars.

Defining the land as a public parking lot has caused controversy.

Watertown City Council made it public last year, but then took it back. Then almost two weeks ago, council voted to make it public again.

P.J. Simao, who owns competing golf course, Ives Hill, says the new approval didn't follow the rules.

"They did it the wrong way. It's become more and more obvious they will go through whatever extremes they have to, even breaking laws if they have to, to help the Watertown Golf Club. All I've asked for all along is for Ives Hill Country Club to be treated fairly," he said.

Simao's attorney sent a letter and documents to the city Wednesday.

His claims: the city is not doing a proper environmental review, they aren't answering basic questions about how it's going to be maintained and repaired, and they didn't give the public a chance to weigh in on the decision.

"They didn't have one. They didn't have a public hearing on this parking lot. That's the clearest problem," said Jan Kublick, attorney.

Simao and Kublick say they think they have a strong case against the city and if nothing is done on Monday, Simao will sue.

"I'm giving them the chance to do it all over again and do it the right way, without costing the taxpayers more money," said Simao.

We reached out to both the city attorney and city manager but did not hear back. Mayor Jeff Smith said he had no comment.

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