Palisade appeals closure of bank branch

Palisade town leaders may ask Palisades National Bank and the federal agency that regulates banks to reconsider the impending shuttering of the bank’s downtown branch, concerned the closure will hurt an already struggling downtown business community.

The Palisade Town Board will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. today to discuss how the town should respond to the April 6 closure of the branch at 305 S. Main St.

Officials with the bank’s owner, Denver-based bank-acquisition company Community Bank Partners, announced earlier this month it didn’t make sense to have two branches operating within a half-mile of each another. They noted that about 80 percent of the bank’s transactions occur at the 600 W. Eighth St. branch.

But in a draft letter to the Denver district office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Mayor Roger Granat wrote that the loss of a 100-year-old community institution will appear short-sighted when the economy recovers.

In the letter, Granat wrote that while the board understands the need for the bank to control expenses, it believes financial institutions have an obligation to remain invested in areas hurt most by the recession.

The letter questions whether the closure of the downtown branch saves enough money to affect the bank’s viability.

“It is our understanding that the terms of the lease must be maintained and personnel will be transferred, not reduced,” the letter says.

That contradicts a statement from Matt Lamb, director of retail banking for Community Bank Partners, who told The Daily Sentinel earlier this month that while some downtown employees will be reassigned to the Eighth Street location, he expected some layoffs.

Granat wrote in the letter the town has been hurt by business closures in the past year and attributed part of the problem to a lack of available financing for small businesses.

“Banks and financial institutions bear at least some of the fault for the present financial crisis,” he wrote. “While we are not implying that Palisades National Bank was irresponsibly excessive as a sub-prime lender, it is ironic that now responsible borrowers and neighborhoods such as downtown Palisade must pay another price for ultra-conservative lending and business practices as banks withdraw in the face of a crisis brought on in part by actions of the banking community.”

Steve Ammentorp, the bank’s market president, couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.


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