Palisade softens stance on bank branch closure

A split Palisade Town Board decided Wednesday night not to ask federal regulators to reconsider the closure of the Palisades National Bank downtown branch. The board chose instead to invite the bank’s owner to a board work session about the town’s future.

The board voted 5–2 to send a letter to Denver-based Community Bank Partners welcoming the new ownership group to the community and expressing interest in working with the company. Mayor Roger Granat and trustees Jim Harkreader, Michael Krueger, Penny Prinster and Art Silver voted to send the letter. Trustees Dave Edwards and Bennett Price voted against sending the letter as it was presented.

Edwards proposed an amendment asking the bank to consider postponing closure of the downtown branch for six months so that town officials have time to discuss the status of the branch or alternative uses of the space. But Harkreader, who made the motion to approve the letter, wouldn’t agree to the amendment.

Community Bank Partners announced earlier this month it will close the downtown branch at 305 S. Main St. on April 6 for financial reasons. The company said 80 percent of Palisades National Bank transactions occur at the 600 W. Eighth St. branch.

The town had drafted a strongly worded letter to send to the Comptroller of the Currency, the federal agency that regulates banks, objecting to the closure and questioning how much money the bank would actually save. Ultimately, the board decided instead to write a letter to Community Bank Partners indicating the town understands the bank’s need to cut costs.

“While we share the concerns of those citing the loss of a downtown institution and the damage from another vacant building, we feel our attention is better directed to positively and progressively work towards economic recovery with all of our partners in the private sector,” the letter from Granat reads.

Price said the closure of the downtown branch “kills the downtown” and will harm downtown businesses and senior citizens who rely upon its convenient location.

“I think we have to play all the cards right now unless we’re ready to fold our tent,” he said.

Several trustees argued the town doesn’t have a right to question private-sector decisions and risks alienating the bank by doing so.

“We should not meddle in private business,” Harkreader said. “We may not agree with their decision, but they made a business decision, and we may not know everything behind it.”

No representatives from the bank or Community Bank Partners attended Wednesday’s meeting.

The work session to which the bank is invited is April 12.


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