City officials tour Watertown golf club

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Oct. 24—WATERTOWN — City officials toured the Watertown Golf Club on Friday to get a handle on its amenities and determine how the golf course would make Thompson Park better.

The tour was prompted by the city’s pending purchase of nine holes of the golf club from owner Michael E. Lundy.

City Manager Kenneth A. Mix, City Attorney Robert J. Slye and parks superintendent Scott D. Weller met with Mr. Lundy and his attorney, Michael Young, to talk about what exactly the city will be getting from what would be a purchase of the club’s assets.

Last Monday night, council members Lisa A. Ruggiero, Cliff G. Olney III and Patrick J. Hickey informally agreed to purchase the golf club for $3.4 million.

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, but Mr. Mix hasn’t had any direct discussions about the controversial price to obtain it, he said.

Mr. Mix said the city will need to get the club ready next spring for when it reopens next May for the golf season.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Department will run the club as a municipal golf course.

“We’ve got about five months before we’re up and running,” Mr. Mix said.

The city is already putting together an operating budget for the club and determining how many city staff will be needed to run it, Mr. Mix said.

He thinks it will take maybe a month for Mr. Slye and Mr. Young to work up a contract. Mr. Young will have to put together a list of all the club’s equipment, including golf carts, lawn mowers and other items, before the contract can be approved by City Council, Mr. Slye said.

The possibility of acquiring the golf club is coming up at the same time the city is putting together a Thompson Park master plan, so the city will look how that will impact its future, Mr. Mix said.

Mr. Lundy offered to sell the club for $3.75 million and complete some improvements, such as demolishing the club house. But Mr. Mix said it was better for the city to keep the clubhouse.

Mr. Lundy has just been using the clubhouse for its kitchen and restrooms and not a dining facility. He put up an outdoor party tent for dining.

But Mr. Mix envisions using the clubhouse to springboard more outdoor winter activities, like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing until another structure could be built.

He also sees the ability of adding hiking trails that are on the golf club’s nine holes that wouldn’t interfere with golfers.

Mr. Weller has indicated that his department is capable of running it. His building and ground crews would be helping to maintain the facility, although they would need to learn how to take care of the greens, Mr. Mix said.

Mr. Lundy has agreed that his sister, Colleen Lundy, will assist the city with the takeover of the club and help with organizing golf tournaments.

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

Critics were surprised that the deal was happening so quickly to acquire the nine holes of the golf club that Mr. Lundy owns.

But Councilwoman Ruggiero expected to go into executive session to discuss the deal further last Monday night. She blamed Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith for forcing the informal vote that night.

The mayor said Sunday that there was no reason to do that since the purchase price was made public earlier in the day, making it illegal to go into executive session that night.

She also criticized the mayor for bashing the deal on Jeffrey E. Graham’s Hotline radio show on Thursday, accusing the three council members of not doing enough research on its impact.

In defending the deal, now that the three council members have come out in favor of it, city staff can start working on it, she said. Staff was unable to do that without getting direction from a majority council. Now they can complete that due diligence that the mayor said was lacking, she added.

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