City of Watertown City Hall. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — The Golfgate saga at Thompson Park might finally be over.

In a 3-2 vote, the City Council decided to rescind a resolution passed in June that made an overflow parking area near the Watertown Golf Club public parking.

As a result of Monday night’s vote, the public parking sign will be taken down and people can no longer park there.

“It’s not a parking lot,” Councilman Cody J. Horbacz said after the vote.

For months, the overflow parking area was the subject of debate between council members, while they also faced the threat of legal action from the competing owners of the Watertown Golf Club and Ives Hill Country Club.

In the surprise move, council members Ryan Henry Wilkinson, Lisa A. Ruggiero and Mr. Horbacz introduced the resolution to remove the public parking sign, notifying Mayor Joseph M. Butler Jr. and Councilwoman Sarah V. Compo just prior to Monday night’s council meeting.

In voting against it, Mayor Butler and Councilwoman Compo objected to the way that the matter was sprung on them right before the meeting.

“This is not how we go about doing business,” Mayor Butler said. “Two hours before a meeting is not the way to do it.”

Designating the area for public parking was supposed to resolve the controversy over the parking area.

Earlier this year, the controversy erupted after P.J. Simao, who owns Ives Hill Country Club, criticized the fact that golf club members primarily used the existing grass and gravel lot that is on city, not golf club, property.

Earlier this year, Mr. Simao found out that the golf club was encroaching on city parkland at the city-owned park, with a septic system, a golf cart storage area and the parking area, all located on city property.

He took the city to court over the matter. Michael E. Lundy, who owns the Watertown Golf Club, also threatened legal action against the city.

In June, City Attorney Robert J. Slye suggested opening up the parking for all to avoid lawsuits by the two golf club owners, although Councilman Horbacz questioned that legal strategy on Monday night.

“I was trying to avoid lawsuits by either of them,” Mr. Slye said. “It’s pretty good legal advice.”

As a result of council’s action on Monday, the parking lot controversy appears to be over. Mr. Lundy had promised to make major improvements to the overflow parking lot. Those plans now appear to be dead.

In his letter, Mr. Lundy, who plans to build a new clubhouse and redesign the golf course, wrote that he has plenty of space to build a parking lot on his property, He also told the city he completed most of the other encroachments on the golf course.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(1) comment


Let's lease it to them and be done with it.

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