Watertown now seeking environmental assessment, appraisal of golf course

Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 5:27 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A claim to nullify the city’s $3.4 million purchase of the Watertown Golf Club states an environmental assessment was never done. City officials confirm that will be rectified during Tuesday night’s council meeting.

“It’s certainly taking a lot of staff effort for not only the closing, the lawsuit and figuring out how to run a golf course, yes, it all takes time,” said City Manager Ken Mix.

A claim made by city resident MaryEllen Blevins looks to stop the deal, citing the cost far exceeds any appraisal of the property.

State Supreme Court Judge James McClusky stopped the sale for now with a January 11 court date for the two sides.

The legal paperwork also states a State Environmental Quality Review, or SEQR assessment, was never done, arguing the agreement can’t move forward.

Mix says it was never done because he felt the physical purchase wasn’t going to affect the park landscape.

“But technically within the regulations, the purchase of land has to be reviewed for its environmental impact,” he said.

So, an assessment will be done by city council at Tuesday night’s meeting.

If they find it to have a low impact on the environment, then council will proceed with re-adopting the purchase agreement and other pieces pertaining to the deal.

Council members Lisa Ruggiero and Cliff Olney wouldn’t comment due to the litigation.

Mayor Jeff Smith says he asked for the environmental assessment to be done before the deal was made. He also wants an appraisal. He feels other council members are trying to rush the deal through.

“Any person would get an appraisal, find out what the value of that is and then start negotiating that price, but unfortunately, that is not what we have done here,” said Smith.

Mix says an appraisal is in the works, but it could take 4 to 6 weeks to get done.