Michael E. Lundy, The Watertown Golf Club
GolfGate: The Real Facts
Over the past five years the local media has inundated the news cycles with sensationalized stories involving the Watertown Golf Club, commonly known as “GolfGate”. Michael E. Lundy, President and Majority Owner of the Watertown Golf Club, has intentionally reserved many of his comments throughout all of those years. “I simply did not want to not continue to fuel the media coverage”. Now he believes it is time the public understands the real facts.
Facts About the Proposed Sale of the Watertown Golf Club and Settlement with the City of Watertown:
• Contrary to public belief Mr. Lundy and Mr. Simao are not rival developers. This rival developer concept has been created and fueled by the local media. Mr. Simao purchases and redevelops land. Mr. Lundy purchases land for building projects. To Mr. Lundy’s knowledge they have never directly competed on any projects, with the exception of the golf courses.
• This wasn’t a “scheme” as alleged by the Watertown Daily Times. Over the past year Mr. Lundy and Mr. Simao have been meeting to figure out a resolution to “Golf Gate”. During this process they both agreed that having two 18-hole golf courses in the City of Watertown needed to change. Together they reviewed several options and decided this past August, as a result of the City’s proposed rezoning of the Watertown Golf Club property, that keeping the Watertown Golf Club an 18-hole golf course would be the best option for the City.
• Mr. Simao will be compensated by the Watertown Golf Club for permanently reducing Ives Hill Country Club to nine holes, therefore making the Watertown Golf Club the only 18-hole golf course in the City.
• Both Mr. Lundy and Mr. Simao will release the City from all current and anticipated litigation as it pertains to GolfGate.
• The sale will allow for the expansion and designation of the Watertown Golf Club property as NYS Parkland, and will forever be protected from development.
• The City already has a capable Parks and Recreation Department that can easily expand its maintenance operations to include the Watertown Golf Club.
• With the City owning all of the land around the Watertown Golf Club, it presents tremendous opportunity for expansion and improvements not currently available.
• The Watertown Golf Club is a fully irrigated golf course. The City has unlimited access to water to keep the course in great condition.
• The Watertown Golf Cub is only used approximately six months a year. The City could utilize the new property for year-round activities, such as trails, cross country skiing etc.
• Ownership by the City would follow the original intent envisioned by the Founders of Thompson Park to provide recreational opportunities for future generations
• The Watertown Golf Club property has always been zoned residential. Any proposed changes to the zoning would be unfair and financially penalizing.
• Since 1965, The City has had many opportunities to protect against development on the Watertown Golf Club’s property through its lease arrangements, but never negotiated a restriction against development into any lease. This Settlement is an opportunity for the City to correct the mistakes that were made over the last 57 years by not protecting the Park or the City taxpayers and residents.
Facts About the Price and Settlement Amount
• The $3,400,000 includes much more than just acquiring 67 acres of land.
• It ends “GolfGate” and resolves all current litigation and anticipated future litigation.
• It protects golf in the City for future generations and creates additional recreational opportunities.
• It preserves and protects Thompson Park from development in perpetuity.
• It makes the Watertown Golf Course the only course in the City with 18-holes.
• Mayor Jeff Smith has stated that the City could have purchased the course years ago for less money, but it didn’t. In fact, in 2006 Mayor Smith wanted to sell the City land to the Watertown Golf Club and reduce the size of Thompson Park. Since then, a number of factors have changed.
• Mr. Lundy has invested a significant amount of money into the golf course itself, as well as a complete clubhouse renovation, including a new kitchen and bar equipment, a new starter building on the first tee, and adding an Events Center to host charity golf tournaments and other various events, including weddings.
• Additionally, he has invested a significant amount of money in purchasing new maintenance equipment and a fleet of golf carts. The replacement costs of those assets would be well over $1 Million.
• “Candidly the value of the Club’s 67 acres are more valuable to a housing developer.”
There have been a few people who have voiced negative opinions about the deal without a complete understanding of the facts. Mayor Smith has falsely stated that the City is” bailing out Mr. Lundy’s private enterprise.” That statement is a blatant misrepresentation of the facts. It demonstrates the Mayor’s lack of knowledge and his willingness to mislead the public to further his own political agenda.
Facts About the Watertown Golf Club:
• Watertown Golf Club, Inc. was formed nearly 100 years ago by local businessmen to develop and promote the sport of golf in the City of Watertown. The Watertown Golf Club businessmen paid for the creation of the Club, purchased the 67 acres of farmland adjacent to what would become Thompson Park, and developed a 9-hole golf course.
• In 1965 the Club was looking to expand the course into the adjacent undeveloped land owned by the City. A lease was negotiated between the parties and The Watertown Golf Club was responsible to develop the property and make the necessary improvements to expand to an 18-hole course.
• At no time has the City paid for any improvements to either piece of property.
• The City owned leased property is NYS Parkland. It is to be used for recreational purposes and can never be developed. It is land locked, has no road access, and has no utilities on site.
• If the lease were ever terminated the costs to the City to extend the road and utilities to that property would be extremely expensive.