What would golf club deal mean to future of Thompson Park?

Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 5:12 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - As fall peaks in Watertown’s Thompson Park, a group that aims to preserve the park is feeling optimistic now that a majority of city council is leaning toward buying the private land used by the Watertown Golf Club.

“We’ll have the space to expand and enhance the activities in the many, many ways people enjoy the park,” said Phil Sprague, chair, Friends of Thompson Park.

City council members Lisa Ruggiero, Cliff Olney and Patrick Hickey are in favor of the city spending $3.4 million to do the deal with golf club owner Mike Lundy.

The deal would also settle all current and potential future litigation with Lundy and Ives Hill Golf Course owner P.J. Simao.

City Manager Ken Mix believes the price is high but taking ownership would make things easier.

“We are looking at the master plan trying to look at how to get a trail around the clubhouse there. It’s what I have been calling a pinch point,” he said.

If council rejects Lundy’s proposal, a housing project could be built there and it’s something that Mayor Jeff Smith says he wouldn’t be opposed to.

“Let it happen. I mean that would be much more tax revenue for the city, so private development, we keep talking and hearing about it, let the private development happen,” he said.

Sprague says, however, that the Friends of Thompson Park is excited a majority of council doesn’t agree with the mayor.

“We love the fact that the existing parkland is going to be protected from encroachment and development that would certainly alter the landscape up there in a way we view and come to appreciate the park,” he said.

A final resolution needs to be drawn up by Mix and City Attorney Bob Slye and then voted on by council.