Golf club owner ‘evaluating our options’ after council cuts parking area

Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 3:29 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The owner of Watertown Golf Club said Wednesday he is “evaluating all of our options,” after the city council voted to eliminate a parking area used by club members for decades.

Majority owner Mike Lundy wouldn’t detail what those options are Wednesday, but in a February 8 interview with 7 News, he suggested the club could close and the land be developed.

“So there’s 63 acres that we own that is probably one of the nicest locations in the whole community. There’s a lot of other uses that would be valuable,” he said on February 8.

It’s also likely Lundy will at least consider legal action against the city for Tuesday night’s vote.

Council members Cliff Olney, Lisa Ruggiero and Patrick Hickey voted to eliminate the parking area. Mayor Jeff Smith voted against eliminating it. Council member Sarah Compo Pierce was absent from the meeting.

Tuesday night’s vote was the latest chapter in a long-running dispute over whether the city has given the Watertown Golf Club unfair advantages against its rival, Ives Hill Country Club.

The parking area in question is a gravel and grass area just west of the golf club in Thompson Park. It has been used as “overflow parking” by the club for decades, even though it is city property.

City officials insist it is public parking, open to anyone using Thompson Park.

“We don’t have the right to allow a commercial business to use that park for parking for commercial purposes. We never had permission to do that,” said council member Cliff Olney at Tuesday night’s meeting.

“But it was allowed and it was known, and people know it, and covered it up,” he said.

Council member Lisa Ruggiero challenged whether the parking area is truly public parking.

“We’re calling it a public parking lot, and yet we’re not offering any handicapped spaces for that,” she said.

“We expect other people and business owners to abide by whatever number of spaces they have to have, but also the number of handicapped spaces they have to have, and the city’s not even following that”

But Mayor Jeff Smith argued there is other public parking in the city similar to the area by the golf course - as an example, he cited parking on the grass in front of the baseball field at the Duffy fairgrounds.

He also questioned whether the parking area is any more of an unfair advantage than public parking downtown, which people can use to go restaurants and bars.

And Smith slammed what he called “wild accusations.”

“Many people use this parking who have nothing to do with the golf course. People park there and use the park for their enjoyment,” he said.

“You’re gonna take these people who are parking there, and you’re now gonna put those cars on the street, which is gonna be less safe.”

Council also voted to conduct a study of the ground where the parking area was located, and where a fuel storage tank was located, to determine whether the area has been polluted.

Copyright 2022 WWNY. All rights reserved.