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Mayor criticizes lack of appraisal, inspection after electrical issues found at Watertown Golf Club

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The debate over the controversial purchase of the Watertown Golf Club continues after some electrical issues were discovered last week in the clubhouse’s basement.

Employees of the parks and recreation and the Department of Public Works were in the building’s basement at Thompson Park on Tuesday when the electrical issues were found.

After examining photos sent by Parks and Recreation Superintendent Scott D. Weller, City Manager Kenneth A. Mix described the electrical issues as junction boxes and circuit breaker boxes that did not have covers on them and some dangling dead wires found in the basement.

He acknowledged that he doesn’t know if there are other electrical issues that would have to be corrected until an electrician inspects the property.

Mr. Mix also said that former golf club owner Michael E. Lundy has promised to take care of the situation.

The issues are coming to light just as the city is looking for someone to run the clubhouse for the city when the golf club is slated to open in May.

Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith said Sunday that the electrical issues prove that an appraisal and inspection of the property should have been completed prior to its purchase for $3.4 million.

He continues to blame council members Lisa A. Ruggiero, Cliff G. Olney III and Patrick J. Hickey for not doing their “due diligences” before the deal was finalized.

The deal for nine holes on 63 acres was completed on Jan. 27 and the electrical issues were discovered four days later.

The purchase of the golf club has been a hotly debated issue since it was first proposed in August.

Saying she was surprised that the electrical issues weren’t known until last week, Councilwoman Ruggiero stressed that Mr. Lundy has promised “to take care of it.”

She’s also frustrated that the mayor is using the situation as ammunition to continue to bash the purchase when the city is working on getting the golf club open in May.

She said the mayor continues to talk negatively about the project on a local radio Hotline program when he should be helping to make the purchase golf club a success.

The city should be working on getting golf tournaments signed up for the season, she said.

“I’m fed up,” she said. “He wants it to be a total failure for political reasons.”

Instead, she said that Mayor Smith should take the advice of former Mayor T. Urling Walker, who suggested before he died on Jan. 3 that council members should always move on from a controversial vote and work together to make their decision a success.

“When you lose, you move on,” she said.

But Mayor Smith stressed that he’s bringing up the problems publicly involving the golf club because it proves that the three council members failed to do their jobs to find out more before the deal was finalized, adding that city taxpayers will be the ones hurt if the golf club goes sour.

“It’s not a Kumbaya moment that we all hold hands,” he said.

Someone told him that the electrical issues are more serious, that the electrical system would not pass city codes.

“It’s a big deal,” he said.

The city manager did not describe the situation in those terms, instead saying that an electrician will look at the issues and that Mr. Lundy will fix the problems.

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