Council to discuss Watertown Golf Club deal on Monday

Nov. 4—WATERTOWN — The pending purchase of the Watertown Golf Club by the city is expected to come up at Monday night's City Council meeting with the first formal vote on whether to move ahead to buy the golf course from developer Michael E. Lundy for $3.4 million.

City officials have been working on the pending deal since a majority of council said Oct. 17 that they favor purchasing nine holes of the golf club adjacent to the city-owned Thompson Park.

Council members Patrick J. Hickey, Cliff G. Olney III and Lisa A. Ruggiero requested that a resolution be put on Monday night's agenda that formalizes the pending purchase.

"It officially says that we're in agreement to do this," Councilwoman Ruggiero said Friday.

The resolution states council's intent to purchase the real estate and equipment assets of the golf club, contingent on City Manager Kenneth A. Mix drafting a satisfactory purchase agreement and obtaining the information necessary for the operation of the course.

City attorney Robert J. Slye and attorneys for the golf club are "going back and forth" on working on a draft purchase agreement, Mr. Mix said. The golf club has yet to provide a complete list of the golf club's assets, however.

"We continue to keep on working to investigate and evaluate on how to run a golf course," Mr. Mix said.

If the purchase offer goes through, the city would run it as a municipal golf course.

Mr. Mix doesn't know if the attorneys will be finished with the purchase agreement in time for the Nov. 21 council meeting. The deal would need to be worked out by April in time for the golf course's opening this spring.

Parks Superintendent Scott D. Weller and city officials have contacted the operators of three municipal golf courses and private golf clubs to see how they operate their facilities, Mr. Mix said.

They are learning about the three facets of running a golf course — grounds keeping, the pro business side and the clubhouse, he said, adding that golf courses "can run them differently."

For instance, a golf course can run the food and drink portion of the facility itself or contract another entity, he said.

The pending purchase of the golf club has prompted a lot of public debate.

Councilwoman Ruggiero said an overwhelming number of people she's talked to are in favor of the proposal. She expects a lot of people to attend Monday night's meeting, with many of them in support of the deal.

But Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith said he's only heard from people — in emails, phone calls and in person — who oppose the deal. They're mainly against the $3.4 million price, he said.

The mayor also reiterated that the three council members should have known more about the worth of the golf course before it got to this point.

He also said that Mr. Lundy has refused to provide his tax returns for the golf club, which would show "its true value" and be required by a bank for a loan.

Mr. Lundy has provided financial information that claims the golf club made $174,000 in profits last year.

As for the deal with the city, the club owns holes one through six and 16 to 18 of the course, while the city owns the others, with the club leasing the land on which the remaining holes sit.

The deal has come up in conversation that it's a good idea to take control of Mr. Lundy's property to protect it from development.

The city would operate the golf club as Watertown's only 18-hole course.

Before the possible sale of the nine holes to the city, Mr. Lundy was in talks to sell the property to developer P.J. Simao, who planned to build single-family homes on the property.

A proposed zoning change would kill that deal, so Mr. Lundy asked for a meeting with city officials saying that he wanted to talk about a way to end litigation involving the golf club. For years, the golf club has been the source of legal action by both Mr. Lundy and Mr. Simao.

The deal would end any litigation against the city by either Mr. Lundy or Mr. Simao.

Under the proposed deal, Mr. Simao would operate his Ives Hill Country Club as a nine-hole golf course and reopen his clubhouse restaurant. Mr. Simao would receive an unspecified amount of money from Mr. Lundy for turning his 18-hole golf course into nine holes.