Judge halts city’s purchase of Watertown Golf Club

Published: Dec. 28, 2022 at 10:44 AM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A judge has halted the city of Watertown’s purchase of the Watertown Golf Club.

On Wednesday, Supreme Court Judge James McClusky ordered the city to show cause before he rules on a preliminary injunction sought by a city resident.

MaryEllen Blevins filed a complaint asking the court to stop the $3.4 million purchase.

Council members Lisa Ruggiero, Pat Hickey and Cliff Olney voted earlier this month for the city to enter into a binding purchase agreement.

McClusky ordered the city, the three council members, and the council itself to demonstrate why he should not grant an injunction to halt the purchase. A hearing is set for January 11. They have until January 5 to file any answering documents.

McClusky’s order prevents the city from completing the purchase at least until he rules on the preliminary injunction. The city had hoped to close on the deal by the end of the year.

Under the deal, the city would buy the Watertown Golf Club’s land and assets for $3.4 million from Mike Lundy. It also would stop litigation against the city regarding the course.

It would allow Lundy to make a deal with PJ Simao, owner of Ives Hill Country Club, and limit that course to nine holes, making the Watertown Golf Course the only 18-hole course in the city.

Lundy would use some of the money to compensate Simao, but that amount isn’t being made public.

Blevins’ complaint criticizes the deal, which she says forces the city to pay a price “far exceeding any appraisal of the property, and doggedly refusing to obtain an updated appraisal to determine a proper counteroffer.”

It also calls the purchase an illegal act through an unconstitutional gift.

Ruggiero says the price had been negotiated from $3.75 million to $3.4 million which was the “take-it-or-leave-it” price.

“I believe that this will hold up in court. I think the city’s argument about wanting to do this purchase to have additional parkland added at the park, and we negotiated in good faith,” she said.

Mayor Jeff Smith did not comment given the pending litigation.

If the deal doesn’t go through, Lundy said he will keep the Watertown Golf Club closed in 2023 and move forward with looking at options which include building homes on the land he owns. He now owns the land for nine of the holes and leases the rest from the city.