Simao Wants City To Put Its Golf Course Land Up For BidPosted: Updated:
The Thompson Park pool project is now $500,000 over budget. Now, Ives Hill Country Club owner P.J. Simao thinks he has a solution.
"After hearing that and reading about that this morning, there's these issues going on with the golf course, maybe we can come to a whole deal that makes it easy on everybody," said Simao.
In a letter Wednesday to city leaders, Simao says Watertown should look into "alienating" the 66 plus acres of park land it leases to the golf club, and put it up for bid. He estimates that would bring in at least $500,000 and an increase in property tax revenue - all money that could cover the pool's increase in cost.
If the city doesn't do that, Simao says it should renegotiate a new market value lease with the Watertown Golf Club.
"With this, you would bring it all into compliance, go through the whole site plan approval process and do everything on their own piece of property, own premises, so they're not dependent on park land and then we can get away from all this stuff that's been going on for all these years and at least make it somewhat of a fair playing field," said Simao.
Mayor Joe Butler said alienating park land is not a viable option, because it takes months and you have to have a very good reason to do it.
"He's hell-bent on disrupting the Watertown Golf Club," said Butler.
Simao says for years, he feels, the Watertown Golf Club has gotten special treatment by the city and has paid below market rent. He says it's unfair to his business, Ives Hill Country Club.
Simao's latest suggestions come after he made public that the Watertown Golf Club was spilling over into city-owned land, specifically for its septic system, golf cart storage and overflow parking.
Majority shareholder and operator of the golf club Mike Lundy says he was fully aware of that and had already been working with the city for several months to correct it. Lundy says he'll pay to move the septic system, or tie it into city's system. As for parking, Lundy says this area has always been public, but that he'll improve it, and pay for that, too.
Simao says if the city continues to give what he calls "favorable treatment" to the Watertown Golf Club, Ives Hill Country Club's future will be in jeopardy and could potentially close. If that were to happen, Simao argues that would drag down property values in neighborhoods surrounding his golf course.
When 7 News asked Lundy for comment on Simao's latest idea of putting land in the park up to bid, Lundy said, "He must really be concerned about our potential success. Maybe he should put the same effort into making his own golf course better."