Watertown lawmakers approve intent to buy golf course

Watertown Golf Club plans
Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 5:40 AM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A majority of Watertown city council members voted Monday night to approve its intent to purchase the golf course in Thompson Park.

In front of a packed crowd in city council chambers, it was a 3-1 vote with Mayor Jeff Smith opposed. Council member Sarah Compo Pierce was not present, although she posted on Facebook that she would have voted “no.”

If a final deal is met, the city would pay $3.4 million for the nine holes it doesn’t own at the Watertown Golf Club, its equipment, and to resolve any future litigation against the city from golf club owner Mike Lundy and Ives Hill Country Club owner PJ Simao.

About a dozen community members came forward to express their thoughts and about two-thirds of them did not agree with the sale, questioning its cost and the lack of transparency with the public on the deal, while those in favor say it’s a golden opportunity for the city to take hold of the park for future growth.

The council’s decision on Monday is contingent on a “satisfactory purchase agreement and obtaining the information necessary for the operation of the course.”

“We are here to do our job and make the best decision that we can in many things and so some people say that we are being blackmailed or whatever it is,” council member Lisa Ruggiero said. “I don’t feel like that is the case.”

“Is this an overpriced land sale, yes, but without this purchase, the city will continue to maintain the contracts that favor one club owner over another,” council member Patrick Hickey said.

“The spending of this money is mind blowing,” Smith said, “in light of the fact that we’re going to have a hydro contract that’s gone, these ARPA dollars are going to be gone, positions have been added to the budget, they are not free.”

At the end of the meeting, Smith asked the city manager to draft resolutions for the next meeting to get a third-party appraisal for the course’s property value and to request its tax returns.