Watertown lawmakers have heated exchange over golf club deal

Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 5:51 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The recent discovery of electrical issues at the Watertown Golf Club and the lack of an inspection led to a heated exchange at Monday night’s city council meeting.

The city recently spent $3.4 million to buy the course, but an inspection of the clubhouse was never done before the purchase.

Now the city says the building has electrical issues and it would be unable to pass inspection.

The heated exchange took place between Mayor Jeff Smith, who was opposed to buying the golf course, and Council Member Lisa Ruggiero, who supported it.

Smith said an inspection should have been done and that Ruggiero, who works in the real estate industry, should have been aware of it.

“You want to disparage me. Should I start disparaging you and your career? Would you like that,” Ruggiero asked Smith.

Smith replied, “When it’s your privilege of the floor if you want to, go ahead.”

Ruggiero said, “Such an ass.”

While city staff walked through the clubhouse before closing on the property, an official inspection wasn’t done.

Ruggiero says the issue is being overblown since former property owner Mike Lundy has agreed to fix any problems that arise, and there’s $100,000 set aside to pay for the fixes.

“Wouldn’t it make sense since Mr. Lundy said he’s going to take care of it? Have him pay for the inspection,” she said.

But Smith doesn’t want to leave things in Lundy’s hands. He wants an independent inspection so problems are known now, not in May when the club needs to pass an inspection and open for business.

“‘They’re fixed.’ Then we get an inspector to come in, say, ‘They’re not all fixed.’ There’s further delay,” said Smith.

City Engineer Mike Delaney agrees with Smith.

“I don’t make the call. I’m just saying that if I were to make that decision, I would have a third-party inspector come in, evaluate it under the supervision of city staff,” he said.

In response, Mayor Smith has called for a resolution for a third-party inspection to be voted on at the next meeting.