Dan Hust | Democrat
The Bank of America’s Grahamsville branch has been a bank of some sort at this location (279 Main Street) since 1964. As of this past Friday, however, the bank is closed, and the property’s future is uncertain.
Bank of America shuts doors in Grahamsville
Story by Dan Hust
GRAHAMSVILLE August 13, 2013 Grahamsville is now officially without a bank the first time in at least 50 years.
On Friday, the Bank of America closed its branch at 279 Main Street (Route 55) in the heart of the hamlet.
“It certainly leaves a hole in the fabric of Grahamsville,” noted resident and Neversink Town Historian Carol Smythe as she stepped out of its glass door for the last time.
Bank of America spokesman TJ Crawford said yesterday that the closure “was primarily based on the decline in transactions due to online and mobile banking.”
“They [online/mobile services] are second to none, and that’s not been lost on our customers,” he remarked.
Crawford declined to discuss the fate of the branch’s three employees but said they were offered job assistance. Customers have been referred to Bank of America’s Liberty and Ellenville locations.
A written response to Neversink Town Supervisor Mark McCarthy’s letter of protest to Bank of America also shed a tiny bit of light on the closure.
“A decision to close a banking center is never easy,” said Customer Advocate Karin Herndon. “We did an extensive analysis of the market, and our examination focused on minimizing service disruptions for our customers.
“... We made this decision with full confidence that nearby banking centers will continue to provide the same unparalleled service you have come to expect and deserve.”
The property, originally a private home, is now for sale.
Bids were due on Friday, and Catskill-Hudson Bank CEO Glenn Sutherland confirmed his company submitted one though he added that this does not mean Catskill-Hudson is leaving its Neversink location five miles to the west. He explained the bank’s interest in Grahamsville as “a long-term view.”
Sutherland did affirm, however, that if Catskill-Hudson is successful in its bid, it will seek to put a branch there.
That would extend what is already a half-century of banking use at that location. According to Smythe, Sullivan County National Bank purchased what was then known as the William North residence in the spring of 1964, opening a branch in June 1964. The office was originally staffed by Frank Travis, a native of the Town of Neversink, and Barbara DeWire of Grahamsville.
Though the hamlet’s downtown has lost most of its business district since then, Smythe did not blame the Bank of America’s departure on declining wealth.
“Times have changed, and people have gone to different ways of banking,” she remarked especially with Internet banking. “I’m partially online and doing some banking at Catskill-Hudson in Neversink.”
But in this cell-signal-starved corner of the Catskills, a physical presence is still valued.
“We will miss them for [making] change,” Neversink Town Clerk Lisa Garigliano affirmed of Bank of America, adding that the ATM’s disappearance will also hurt.
Yet even though the town hall is next door to the now-former bank, Garigliano and McCarthy said the town and school district, among others, moved their accounts to Catskill-Hudson after Bank of America’s fees climbed.
McCarthy also blamed the move on “poor service.”
“Catskill-Hudson is giving people what they’re looking for,” he contrasted.
Nevertheless, he agreed that the Bank of America’s closing “is sad it’s a shame.”
“There’s been a bank in Grahamsville since before I was born,” he mused. “And there is still a group of people, seniors really, who are used to face-to-face interaction.”