Watertown Golf Club offered to city for $3.4M; Simao, Lundy could partner on housing project

Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 1:50 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Owners of two competing golf courses in Watertown are ready to team up and bring a housing project to Watertown’s Thompson Park if city council rejects a deal that would have the city buy the Watertown Golf Club and control the private land half the course sits on.

“That is in no way meant to sound threatening,” said P.J. Simao, owner of Ives Hill Country Club. “But that’s the reality of the situation.”

In a phone call with 7 News anchor Jeff Cole, Simao and Mike Lundy, owner of Watertown Golf Club, disclosed the price of the deal that’s in front of council.

Lawmakers will consider paying $3.4 million for the Watertown Golf Club. It would include the roughly 60 acres Lundy owns, golf carts and course equipment. It would also settle all current and potential future litigation from either golf course owner.

Both Simao and Lundy have or have had legal battles with Watertown pertaining to the park golf course.

“It’s a well-thought-out deal for everyone,” Mike Lundy said on the call.

The deal would also prompt Simao to reopen Ives Hill Country Club, but a deed restriction would be placed on the property allowing it to operate only as a 9-hole course, making the Watertown Golf Club the only 18-hole course in Watertown, which could be run as a municipal course by the city.

Lundy says an 18-hole golf tournament can bring in $10,000 to $15,000 in revenue to the club.

The offer was given to the city after Watertown proposed zoning changes on Lundy’s undeveloped land along the golf course. If approved, the changes would prevent Lundy from building homes along the course, which was his intention when he bought the property in 2018.

“If they want to control the park, they should own it,” Lundy said.

Even with the possible zoning changes, the two developers are ready to partner up and “seriously contemplate” doing a housing project in the park if council rejects the $3.4 million offer. It would likely mean the developers would sue the city over the zoning changes.

“The zoning change is being done to harm me. It’s intentional and the process lacked transparency,” said Lundy. “The city knew my intentions of putting homes up there back when I first bought the property.”

If the developers follow through with the housing project, the Watertown Golf Club would likely close, Lundy’s acreage gets developed and Ives Hill would stay closed until all litigation is resolved.

“Take Mike and I out of this. City council should look at the offer and do what’s best for residents, end all litigation and work towards the master plan for Thompson Park,” Simao added.

Council Members Lisa Ruggiero and Cliff Olney are for the purchase. They said it will help stay in line with the Thompson Park Master Plan, and avoid residential development.

Council Member Patrick Hickey said logistics still need to be worked out.

Mayor Jeff Smith said “Let the public know what they would be spending on a nine-hole golf course.”

City council will meet in executive session Monday night and likely talk about the proposal.