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Watertown Golf Club approaches city about purchasing nine holes at Thompson Park

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Watertown Golf Club wants to acquire about 66 acres of the 18-hole golf course at Thompson Park that it now leases from the city of Watertown.

Former Mayor Joseph M. Butler Sr., who serves on Watertown Golf Club’s board and is one of its principal stockholders, said Monday night the club wants to purchase the nine holes that the city owns.

He met with Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham, City Manager Sharon A. Addison and other city officials about two weeks ago to see if the city would be willing to sell.

“It would be very advantageous to us and beneficial to the city of Watertown,” Mr. Butler said.

The golf club has used the 66 acres — holes seven through 15 — since it expanded from nine to 18 holes in the early 1960s. The public golf club has owned the other holes since it was formed in 1926.

It pays the city about $8,700 a year to lease the nine holes under a 23-year lease agreement it signed seven years ago. Instead of paying an annual lease, the golf club would end up owning the land and then make a significant investment in making improvements, Mr. Butler said.

He said the golf club has no plans to sell the course.

The organization already has talked with a bank about obtaining a loan to finance the acquisition.

At Monday night’s meeting, Mayor Graham informed the Watertown City Council about the golf club’s interest in purchasing the land. He wanted to see if the other council members would be interested in parting with the property.

“It’s landlocked and it has no other use,” Mayor Graham said, but noted the price would have to be negotiated. “You can’t just give it away because you like a guy.”

He said the state Legislature has to approve the sale because it involves park land. It also would take four votes of the five-member council to approve the deal. Mr. Butler’s son, Councilman Joseph M. Butler Jr., would have to abstain from the vote.

A public course with about 200 members, the club is made up of about 30 stockholders. The club built and owns the clubhouse, pro shop and maintenance building on its 57 acres on the other half of the course.

In 2006, the city and the Watertown Golf Club extended the lease through 2029, with the organization making annual payments starting at $8,668 until 2014 and gradually increasing to $10,768 during the last four years of the agreement. The previous agreement would have expired in December 2009.

If it can acquire the holes, the golf club would add some golf cart paths over what is now rough terrain, lengthen hole 12 and add a new green there, and make some landscaping improvements, Mr. Butler said.

“The bottom line is, making the improvements that would be beneficial to the golfers,” he said.

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