Can the city run a profitable Watertown Golf Club?

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WATERTOWN — Three City Council members are almost assuredly going forward with purchasing the Watertown Golf Club for $3.4 million from developer Michael E. Lundy.

But the question remains: Can the golf club in Thompson Park be profitable as a municipal golf club?

City officials are still trying to figure out how to operate the golf club if it does purchase nine holes that Mr. Lundy owns and whether it can make money.

City Manager Kenneth A. Mix and Scott D. Weller, the city parks and recreation superintendent, have to determine how to handle greens keepers, the pro shop and clubhouse facets of the business.

“I think it can break even or make a little profit,” Mr. Mix said Tuesday, although he cannot guarantee whether it will be during the first couple of years that the city would own it.

Mr. Lundy’s attorney Mike Young and city attorney Robert J. Slye still need to finalize a purchase agreement for the deal. Two weeks ago, council members Lisa A. Ruggiero, Cliff G. Olney III and Patrick J. Hickey took the first step that formalizes the pending purchase.

Mr. Mix doesn’t know when the vote on the final purchase agreement will take place.

The next vote will be at one of the two council meetings in December when council members will discuss the golf club’s budget and operations.

Until then, Mr. Mix and Mr. Weller will continue to work on how the city should operate the facility.

This week, Mr. Lundy’s attorney provided a complete list of equipment and other assets of the golf club to the city, but Mr. Lundy will not give the city his tax returns for it.

He’s also provided some financial documents that show it made $714,000 last year. He’s requiring city official and council members to sign Non Disclosure Agreements, or NDAs, prohibiting them from releasing detailed financial information to the public about the golf club.

Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith has been adamant that the city gets tax returns for the golf club and an appraisal of the facility.

“It’s something that a bank requires for any loan,” he said.

Opposing the deal, he’s also been adamant that the $3.4 million price tag is way too high.

On Monday night, Councilman Olney said he’s done research that shows golf clubs produce revenues of $300,000 to $400,000. That’s possible, Mr. Mix said.

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