Future of Pine Brook uncertain

GLOVERSVILLE-NBT Bank is foreclosing on the Pine Brook Golf Club property later this year, and the current course operators say it isn’t clear if the course will be opening again in the spring.

Blasper Inc., co-owned by Don Blanchard and Jim Esper, leased the golf course from the nonprofit corporation Pine Brook Golf Club for one year, said Blanchard. Under the lease agreement, approved for the second time by the club’s board, Blanchard ran the course and rented the premises and club house for a fee of $1 each.

The golf course is currently open, but Blanchard said this may be the last season.

“It is very possible that the next month and a half could be the last opportunity for anybody to play Pine Brook,” Blanchard said.

The bank filed foreclosure papers in state Supreme Court Jan. 18. The bank says it is owed $323,826. In the foreclosure complaint, the bank names as defendants Pine Brook Golf Club, the Fulton County Economic Development Corp., the state Department of Taxation and Finance, the city of Gloversville and Nathan Littauer Hospital Association. All of the entities have a connection to the property, according to court papers.

“The bank will be seeking to sell the Pine Brook Golf Course property when the foreclosure process is complete,” said Florence Doller, the Senior Vice President and Director of Marketing for NBT Bank. “While it’s too soon to predict the status of the ownership and operation of the course for the 2014 season, we do share the community’s desire to see the property remain in active use.”

The club had received a $325,000 loan from NBT in February 2010. The club also owes the Fulton County Economic Development Corp. about $50,000, according to court papers.

Pine Brook Board President George Ringland said nothing has changed regarding the club’s financial situation, and it still has no money to pay the bank.

The course, formerly a private golf club, has been open as a public facility under the management of Blasper Inc., which operated the golf course for the first time last year, the club says.

Under the agreement, Blanchard was able to keep revenues from greens fees, cart rentals and memberships. Under a separate agreement, Blanchard also operated the club’s restaurant.

Blanchard said he has talked with the bank about possibly having him maintain and operate the course so it will hold its value if the bank doesn’t find a buyer by next growing season.

“This isn’t something you can walk away from because once you stop mowing it, it isn’t a golf course anymore, which happens very quickly,” Blanchard said.

According to the original deed, if Pine Brook’s membership is unable to open the club and the city doesn’t want to take ownership, the property would go to Nathan Littauer Hospital.

“Nathan Littauer is satisfied with the final outcome regarding the Pine Brook Golf Course,” said Laurence E. Kelly Hospital President and CEO. “From the beginning, we were trying to act in the best interest of our community. The court ruled that the deed covenant made by Mr. Rothschild in 1947 was not valid. We need to honor that finding and conclusion.”

The Common Council voted in July 2012 to not become involved with the operation of the Pine Brook Golf Club.

Blanchard said weather permitting, the course will be in operation this season until around the end of October.

The course will host a closing dinner Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. and space is expected to be limited. Reservations can be made by calling 725-0090.

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