With no reversal on parking designation, Simao says he plans to sue City of Watertown

Land at Thompson Park near the Watertown Golf Club
Land at Thompson Park near the Watertown Golf Club(WWNY)
Updated: Aug. 18, 2020 at 12:55 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Developer and Ives Hill Country Club owner P.J. Simao says he plans to sue the City of Watertown.

“The lawsuit will be filed no later than September 4th, unless of course, I hear from them sometime this week that they are going to rescind the approvals and do things the right way,” Simao told 7 News Monday night.

Simao contends city lawmakers cut corners when recently designating land next to Watertown Golf Club in Thompson Park as public parking. That land has long been used for parking by guests of Watertown Golf Club during busy events. Simao told 7 News his decision on whether or not to file suit would depend on if lawmakers reversed their decision on that designation. No action was taken at Monday night’s council meeting.

Simao’s chief concern is that a public hearing was never held. It’s detailed in an August 12th letter to city lawmakers, from Simao’s attorney, Jan Kublick.

The letter reads, “I also note that City Attorney Robert Slye advised then Mayor Butler and the Council at its November 18, 2019 meeting that a proposed parking lot in Thompson Park would require consideration at a public hearing, consistent with the requirements for the Residential A zoning district.”

Simao and his attorney also argue a more thorough environmental review may be needed.

Below is Kublick’s letter to lawmakers, along with attached public documents from 2019, when Watertown Golf Club majority shareholder Mike Lundy was planning on building a public parking lot on the land in question.

Kublick also included a partial transcript of the November 18th meeting, where Syle advised lawmakers that when a city proposes to build a public lot in a “residence A” neighborhood, code requires a public hearing.

Calling it a misunderstanding, Slye told lawmakers Monday his comments in the 2019 transcript above actually referred to what were then Mike Lundy’s plans to construct a parking lot next to Watertown Golf Club.

Slye also said that a public hearing wasn’t necessary prior to the city’s public parking designation because there was no site plan.

Simao tells 7 News he disagrees with Slye’s interpretation and has long argued city leaders give Watertown Golf Club preferential treatment.

Attorney Slye and Mayor Jeff Smith had no comment when asked about Simao’s possible lawsuit.

This isn’t the first time city council members have deemed the land as public parking. They did so last year, but rescinded in December.

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