Bank takes action

GLOVERSVILLE – NBT Bank is foreclosing on the Pine Brook Golf Club property, but the course owners say that will not stop the course from opening again in the spring.

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. The association could become the property’s owner, according to the deed. All of the entities have a connection to the property, according to court papers.

The course, formerly a private golf club, will open as a public facility under the management of the same same landscaping company that operated the golf course for the first time last year, the club says.

Blasper Inc., co-owned by Don Blanchard and Jim Esper, will lease the golf course from the nonprofit corporation Pine Brook Golf Club for one year, said Pine Brook Board President George Ringland. Under the lease agreement, approved for the second time by the club’s board, Blansper will run the course and rent the premises and club house for a $1 each.

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

The golf course and restaurant are currently closed for the season.

Blanchard said he was pleased with how well operating the course went last year and he is hoping for the same in the coming season. Both Blanchard and Ringland said there is an option to extend the agreement for four additional years.

“I have spoken to the bank and I have spoken to the hospital and both of them would like to see it continue being a golf course,” Blanchard said. “This isn’t just something you can walk away from because once you stop mowing it, it isn’t a golf course anymore, and that happens very quickly. We anticipate operating the course at least another two years.”

Ringland said NBT Bank approves of the arrangement between the club and Blanchard because if the property and building aren’t maintained, the value would decrease substantially.

“At this point, the bank is more than happy to have us lease it to Donny and have him run it because it is worth a lot more being kept and run; otherwise, it will just become an overgrown field,” Ringland said.

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.

The attorney representing NBT Bank, Scott R. Almas, didn’t return phone calls seeking comment for this story.

Pine Brook turned to Blanchard to run the golf course last year as well to allow it time to work with the bank on repayment.

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

If Blanchard didn’t take over the golf course, the club would have closed it last year and that would have triggered clauses in its original deed.

“There is nothing new,” Ringland said. “They started this procedure last year and have finally just decided to follow up and go to court. The foreclosure process takes well over a year, so it will be sometime next year before they finish this foreclosure.”

According to the 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.

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

The Pine Brook club has been unable to raise enough money to operate the course as a membership-only course. The club, under deed restrictions, cannot open the course to the public but was able to lease the property last season.

The Nathan Littauer Hospital Association, as it was identified in a 65-year-old deed, could become the new owner of Pine Brook.

Per the terms of an Oct. 14, 1946, deed, jointly signed on that date by RHV Realty Corp. President Samuel Rothschild and Pine Brook Golf Club President William H. St. Thomas, the golf club property reverts to the hospital association for “its corporate purposes, and if thereafter said Hospital Association should sell said property, it shall be at public sale.”

Ringland said the golf club sees the course as two properties, one being the front where the clubhouse and parking lot are located and the other being the actual golf course itself.

He said he believes the land should go to the hospital because of the deed. However, he said, there is a dispute whether the hospital should be required to pay the mortgage for the front property before being granted the land, so the decision is being decided in court.

“I don’t see it going away,” Blanchard said. “I think I will be able to run the golf course for as long as I want to run the golf course. I see Pine Brook and it being a private club going away, but I don’t think anyone in the city of Gloversville wants to see Pine Brook be another vacant building in the city.”

Blanchard said weather permitting, the course will be in operation this season from April 1 until approximately the end of October.

Levi Pascher covers Gloversville news. He can be reached by email at