Golf course draft document: details & politics

Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 5:49 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - We have more information about a document dropped late Friday afternoon by Watertown Mayor Jeff Smith claiming the draft copy of an agreement between developers Mike Lundy and P.J. Simao would pay Simao $1.7 million for a deed restriction on Ives Hill Country Club, more than the $850,000 previously disclosed.

The document covers more than the deed restriction.

It also includes a non-compete agreement and an understanding between the 2 developers that would prohibit Simao from suing Lundy when it comes to anything in the past or in the future in regards to Lundy’s golf course business in the park.

The document Smith showed is not signed, and if this deal was done, it’s not clear.

The draft document also says this deal will stay confidential. Clearly, it hasn’t and we’ve learned more on how it became public and perhaps the politics behind it.

While council member and mayoral candidate Lisa Ruggiero believes this is election interference at her expense, her opponent, Sarah Compo Pierce, says it’s about transparency.

“I think that really is a badly choreographed political attack against me,” said Ruggiero.

The December document between Simao and Lundy over the sale of the Watertown Golf Club was accidentally sent from Lundy’s attorney Mike Young to then-city attorney Bob Slye.

“Bob, being the attorney that he is, got a hold of me and said, ‘Hey, I got this. It’s a draft.’ We both agreed it wasn’t relevant. It didn’t matter. The city was negotiating to buy a $3.4 million piece of property, on which there was a golf course,” said Young.

But an email sent to city council by interim city attorney Todd Bullard states that he was “voluntarily provided” the drafted document by Slye at the end of May. He wrote Slye had expressed concerns about the document and golf course deal as well as city council not following his legal advice to get an appraisal done.

When Ruggiero asked why Bullard hadn’t disclosed the document when he first got it in May, Bullard pointed to continued “toxicity” surrounding the entire golf course transaction and felt it wasn’t a good idea to bring it up until Simao wanted a deed restriction corrected.

Young wishes the mistake had never been made and the draft, unsigned document had never been made public.

Now that it is, Mayor Smith wonders if there’s a coverup.

“To suggest there’s a coverup is bull. If they want to investigate, they can. I’m not scared. My client and Mr. Simao in this case did nothing illegal, immoral, or unethical. They made a business deal,” said Young.

Ruggiero agrees.

“When Mr. Lundy got paid, he was free to do what he wanted with that money. That was his money, and what he had from his money is what he paid Mr. Simao,” she said.

Compo Pierce says the concern for council members should be where the taxpayers’ money is going.

“I think that the public has every right to know how their money is being spent. They have every right to see this document and to ask questions, and that’s what I’m doing,” she said.

We reached out to Slye who wouldn’t say anything more except that he hasn’t worked for the city in nine months.