Why will Watertown Golf Club financial deal be secret? Depends on who you ask

Watertown Golf Club
Watertown Golf Club(WWNY)
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 3:23 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - If Watertown goes through with doing a golf course deal with developers Mike Lundy and PJ Simao for $3.4 million, who gets how much money will be kept out of the public’s view. Why? It depends on who you ask about what was said behind closed doors.

The deal would have Watertown buy Lundy’s part of the Watertown Golf Club, as well as its buildings and golf equipment. It would also put a deed restriction on Simao’s Ives Hill Country Club, compensating Simao for agreeing to operate it as a 9-hole course. The deal would also settle any current or future claims and litigation.

But what money goes to whom and why the deal is structured to be kept quiet is a question that gets different answers.

In a letter to Simao, his lawyer, Steven Leventhal, refers to one of the closed-door sessions where the deal was brought up and says, “You and Mr. Lundy made clear that you wanted the entire process to be transparent, but Mr. Slye insisted that the settlement proposal should come from Mr. Lundy’s attorney to himself so that it would remain privileged, confidential and exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Law. You and Mr. Lundy simply followed Mr. Slye’s instructions.”

Slye tells 7 News it happened differently. In an email, Slye says, “the City was asked by both Mr. Lundy and Mr. Simao, and their attorneys, to keep the potential sale confidential. My response was that the only way I knew to do that was to consider their proposed releases as involving proposed litigation. That is how and why the issue was framed in this manner. The City honored their request to keep confidentiality. The City has not been asked by them to treat it otherwise since. Now the City is accused of having ‘directed’ that the matters be considered a ‘settlement proposal?’ Not true.”

In on the closed-door meetings was the only city council member, Lisa Ruggiero, who says council is following Slye’s advice.

“Mr. Slye suggested this at our August 31 meeting when there were 8 of us in the room. I think there were 3 attorneys including him. He specifically said to Mr. Lundy, ‘You have your attorney Mike Young send me all the information and documents to me by email, mark it confidential, because it’s a settlement, and it can’t be FOILed (requested through Freedom of Information Law).’ That was his advice. He’s the one who suggested it.”

City council is moving forward with exploring the possibility of doing the deal with the developers.