Appraisal: Watertown paid nearly 3 times more than golf course’s value

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 5:31 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - A professional appraisal of the Thompson Park Golf Course finds the city of Watertown paid almost 3 times more than what its value is.

7 News obtained the appraisal report through a Freedom of Information Law request to the city.

In it, we found that the appraiser’s market value of the course is $1.1 million. That’s far less than what the city paid at $3.4 million.

“I don’t even know what to say. It’s almost criminal the amount overpaid by the city,” said Watertown Mayor Jeff Smith.

Those were Smith’s first thoughts after seeing a Syracuse appraisal firm’s report on the former Watertown Golf Club property.

The report breaks down the value of the land, furniture, and equipment, improvements to the clubhouse, and the value of the golf club as a business.

Smith notes the value is for the golf club’s 18 holes and the city already owns the land half of the course sits on.

“An unbelievable amount of taxpayer dollars, overpaying to two people. What is going on begs the question,” said Smith.

Council members Lisa Ruggiero, Patrick Hickey and Cliff Olney voted in favor of the deal. They said looking at the big picture, the purchase gives Watertown control over Thompson Park’s future and will prohibit any housing development on the private land the city got in the deal. That land was previously owned by Mike Lundy.

“Just like what our forefathers did by investing in the Flower Memorial Library and other things that they did here. We enjoy those assets now. People will see the same thing in the future about what we did in Thompson Park in acquiring that land,” said Olney.

The appraiser also says the deal’s deed restriction put on Ives Hill Country Club doesn’t add value to the golf course Watertown now owns.

That part of the report stuck out to council member Sarah Compo Pierce.

“Paying that individual $850,000, we were told that would make the Watertown Golf Club more competitive, when the appraiser said, in fact, it could do the opposite,” she said.

We reached out to Ives Hill Country Club owner P.J. Simao about the appraisal and he tells 7 News that the statements are “factually false” and he questions the motives of the appraiser.

He goes as far as saying that the appraiser was “unethical” because he never reached out to Simao to verify any of the information.