Simao withdraws legal action against Watertown Golf Club | Business


WATERTOWN – The legal battle between the city and developer PJ Simao, known as “Golf Gate”, is over.

Mr. Simao’s attorney, Jan S. Kublick, informed the State Appeals Division, Department 4, that Mr. Simao was withdrawing his appeal from a lawsuit against the city and Mayor Jeffrey M. Smith.

In February, state Supreme Court Justice James P. McClusky ruled the city had done the right thing in the way it handled a parking lot renovations at Watertown Golf Club in 2020. Justice McClusky decided not to reverse the measures taken by the city.

Mr. Simao, owner of the Ives Hill Country Club, and Clifford G. Olney III, a resident of Watertown, have filed a complaint. Mr Olney is the alleged winner in Tuesday’s election for a four-year seat on city council.

Mr Simao said that with Mr Olney’s apparent election to the board, he withdrew the appeal so that the lawsuit would not become an issue for Mr Olney once he joined the board. .

“I was obviously happy with the election results and wanted to let Cliff Olney make a fresh start in his new role,” said Mr. Simao.

In their lawsuit, they argued that the city failed to complete the required environmental reviews before granting site plan approval for the renovations to the Watertown Golf Club and for the construction of an adjacent municipal parking lot. .

But Justice McClusky ruled that the city had conducted “a valid exercise of legislative authority” when it approved them.

The city council then designated the current land for public use, although Mr. Simao says it is mainly used by members and guests of the golf club.

Mayor Smith, City Council and the Watertown Golf Club have been named as defendants.

City attorney Robert J. Slye said he was surprised when informed by the appeals court on Friday morning that Mr. Simao had dropped his appeal.

“I’m glad we don’t have to worry about this issue,” Slye said.

City manager Kenneth A. Mix also expressed his surprise at the news.

Mr Olney, who also unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2019, said Mr Simao called him on Thursday evening to see if the elected councilor wanted his name removed from the trial.

He entrusted Mr. Simao with making the decision, adding that now that he will become a board member, the issue of Watertown Golf Club could be taken up by the new city council after it takes office on January 1.

It was not the first time that Mr. Simao has had legal issues with the city over the Watertown Golf Club. The legal battles became known as the Golf Gate.

Mr Simao has long argued that a lease between the town and the Watertown Golf Club provided for below-fair-market rents, giving the Thompson Park course an unfair, taxpayer-subsidized advantage over Ives Hill. Watertown Golf Club rents 66 acres of municipal land with the remainder of the 18-hole course owned by the club.

An action brought by Mr. Simao over the lease was dismissed by Judge McClusky in March 2019. He then appealed that decision.

The golf course is owned by businessman Michael E. Lundy, a rival developer.

Mayor Smith could not be reached for comment.

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