Do-over: City lawmakers vote - again - to purchase Watertown Golf Club

Watertown city council revote
Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 5:48 AM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The Watertown city council voted Tuesday night to reaffirm its previous decision to do the deal to buy the Watertown Golf Club.

The council had to do the second round of voting because it essentially skipped a step at its meeting two weeks ago. Lawmakers had to go through a required environmental review on the golf course property.

They did that Tuesday night and it passed. And then the council went on to reaffirm its previous votes, agreeing 3 to 2 to spend $3.4 million to buy the golf course property and its assets.

The original deadline to do the deal has passed. Club owner Mike Lundy originally said if the deal wasn’t done by the end of 2022, he would move forward with closing the course and developing housing.

On Tuesday, Lundy said the deal is still on and he will wait for a January 11 court date, where recent litigation against the deal will be hashed out in state Supreme Court. That deadline leniency was brought up at Tuesday night’s meeting.

“We heard this deal has to be rushed through,” Mayor Jeff Smith said, “so why don’t we take a step back and do an appraisal and a proper evaluation of this property?”

Meanwhile the public also brought up that deadline leniency during the meeting.

Those who spoke are not in favor of the city purchasing the golf course.

They say they want an appraisal so residents can know if the $3.4 million purchase price is a good deal or if it’s too high a price.

The public said they want transparency.

Resident Ben Shoen said city lawmakers shouldn’t tell the public there are no comparables when valuing the property.

“There’s no comparables?” Shoen asked. “A golf course has never been sold in the history of Jefferson County? There have been a couple in the past 5 years.”

“However, until trust can be restored, all the citizens will be highly skeptical of the methods used to try and hurry the process of buying this land,” Scott Garrabrant said. “Thoughtful investigation and thorough investigation of this purchase is, has been, the only way this city in using taxpayer dollars, should move forward.”