Watertown City Council members go back and forth over cyberspace while golf club deal remains on pause

Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 6:01 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The City of Watertown’s controversial $3.4 Million deal for the Watertown Golf Club spilled over from City Hall to cyber space with a weekend war of words erupting.

“People are looking for the City Council to work together to stop the drama, stop the arguing. Things like that really only add fuel to the fire,” said Council Member Sarah Compo Pierce.

Watertown City Council Members Cliff Olney, Lisa Ruggiero, and Patrick Hickey released a statement Friday evening claiming Council Member Sarah Compo Pierce and Mayor Jeff Smith are misleading the public, and are doing so to benefit their own personal and political agendas.

“I have not seen anything as devisive as this, because two of my colleagues are against a resolution that passed. The majority passed it, but yet the Mayor was instrumental in getting somebody to sue the city,” said Council Member Lisa Ruggiero.

Ruggiero is referring to the lawsuit that has stopped the sale of the golf course for now. The trio’s statement came in response to Compo Pierce announcing she was staying on the Watertown City Council, and not going to the Jefferson County Legislature to fill the seat vacated by now Assemblyman Scott Gray.

Compo Pierce said the golf course vote was not the main reason for staying, but it did play a factor into her decision.

“It is one of the biggest issues that we’ve faced as a council. A lot of people say it’s one of the biggest issues in the City of Watertown,” said Sarah Compo Pierce.

Compo Pierce has been vocal, along with Mayor Jeff Smith in their disagreement with the purchase. The 3-2 split of council members lead Council Member Cliff Olney to his keyboard, and the creation of a cartoon portraying Compo Pierce as a parrot echoing what Mayor Smith wants her to say.

“This is where we are right now because of what they’ve said, and there lack of knowledge,” said Olney.

Olney has since deleted comments calling Compo Pierce a “political enemy”, an “obstructionist”, and accused Compo Pierce of spreading misinformation to the public.

“It’s unfortunate, it’s demeaning, it’s belittling. Yes, I agree with the Mayor on quite a number of things, but there’s been a number of things that we disagree on,” said Compo Pierce.

Disagreements aside, all parties involved say they are preparing for business as usual at Tuesday’s council meeting.