Clock ticking on Watertown Golf Club deal

Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 5:32 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The deadline for Watertown to do a $3.4 million deal involving the Watertown Golf Club is the end of the year.

Owner Mike Lundy says if it doesn’t happen, he will keep the course closed next year and move forward with looking at options which include building homes on the land he owns.

“We’ve had golf in the park for over 100 years. I think that this is one way to ensure it continues. It will also be a good way to attract people to the park and to the city,” said Lisa Ruggiero, city council member.

But the price tag of $3.4 million continues to come up for debate. Monday night, city council voted 3 to 2 for an appraisal to get done. Council member Pat Hickey sided with Mayor Jeff Smith and council member Sarah Compo Pierce, telling 7 News the public has a right to know the property’s value and doesn’t believe the appraisal will come close to $3.4 million.

But Hickey says you can’t put a value on some items in the deal, including a deed restriction on Ives Hill Country Club. Owner PJ Simao would be compensated for limiting the course to 9 holes instead of the current 18.

Ruggiero calls the appraisal “moot” because it can’t be done before the end of the year. That’s the deadline for the deal to get done.

“Why do an appraisal when we’re going to be closing on it in two weeks? The appraisal process will probably take a good month to find someone. It’ll take another month before it’s completed so it will be into next year,” she said.

Mayor Smith disagrees and says an appraisal is important, calling attention to the deadline of December 31.

“I wonder what the rush is. It’s a little odd to me. Nobody would do that in the private sector. We’re spending taxpayer dollars and not doing our due diligence,” he said.

Lundy says the deal needs to get done by the end of the year so that planned tournaments at the Watertown Golf Club can move forward. If the city doesn’t do it, Lundy says “the Watertown Golf Club won’t open next year and I will look at my options with the property I own, and look at building houses.”

Ruggiero expects city council to vote on the purchase in 2 weeks at its next meeting.

Does the Watertown Golf Club make money? That answer should be known Friday as council members Ruggiero, Hickey and Cliff Olney look at the club’s books only by signing a non-disclosure agreement.