Home » Watertown lawmakers react to city golf course losing money

Watertown lawmakers react to city golf course losing money

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) – The latest numbers coming out before next Monday’s Watertown City Council meeting say the Thompson Park Golf Course lost money this year.

In terms of expenses, the golf course cost the city, and by extension taxpayers, $686,076 this year. It only generated $396,401. That’s a loss of $289,675.

City Council Member Cliff Olney, who supported the course’s purchase, says he believes this year’s chilly summer was partially to blame.

“I think you have to take things into perspective. We’re building for the future. That’s what we’re doing. I think the amenities we’ve added to the city are important to the people they affect,” he said.

Olney still has high hopes for the course come next season, especially since there were a number of one-time costs that won’t be a factor in 2024.

“I feel that the golf course will hold its own; break even, maybe even make some money. The problem this year was we had some unexpected expenses initially with the electrical. There’s a lot of non-reoccurring expenses they’re adding into that cost,” said Olney.

Mayor Jeff Smith, who has been against the golf course purchase since day one, believes the cost of maintaining equipment will continue to drag revenue down. He doesn’t think the course will ever be profitable.

“It’s unfortunate that it will just be how close to breaking even can it get,” he said.

Smith says he doesn’t expect to see much of a change in revenue next season. He fears the course will put a continuous strain on city finances.

“When the ARPA dollars are gone, which they’re almost gone, when the hydro revenue is gone, what are you going to do,” he said.

Council Member Lisa Ruggiero, who supported the course’s purchase, is optimistic about its future mainly due to the potential for tournaments.

“Despite the criticism, there was a reason we thought it was important the park remained an 18-hole golf course,” she said.

According to Ruggiero, the course has some tournaments already lined up for next year. However, she was unable to provide an exact number.