Otego residents lament loss of local bank as Community closes branch

Otego residents lament loss of local bank as Community closes branch

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Community Bank has closed its branch in Otego, the only bank in the town, much to the dismay of residents and local leaders.

In a letter dated June 22, F.J. Buzz Hesse, chairman of the village of Otego Planning Board, Otego Mayor Ernest Kroll and Otego Town Supervisor Joseph Hurlburt asked Hal Wentworth, senior vice president of retail banking for Community Bank, to reconsider closing the branch.

“The intended closing of the Otego branch of Community Bank N.A. will be extremely detrimental to both the bank’s Otego customers and the village of Otego itself,” the letter said.

“In your letter, you state that with the closing of the Otego Branch, Community Bank, N.A. will ‘remain highly committed to our communities’ and will ‘effectively provide services to our customers.’ Surely, you must see that closing of the Otego branch demonstrates exactly the opposite. There is no commitment by Community Bank, N.A. to the Otego community that can possibly be perceived with the removal of your services from our community.”

Wentworth replied to this letter on July 2, saying although Community does not take closing the branch lightly they see the change as necessary “given trends in retail branch transactions and shifting customer behaviors.” Wentworth also said customers can continue to use the branch in Oneonta, which he
said was six miles away from the Otego branch.

A call to Wentworth for further comment was not returned.

Hulburt said he wasn’t optimistic about the prospect of Community Bank staying in Otego.

“I think it’s a done deal,” Hulbert said. “I don’t think they’re going to change their minds.”

Hesse called the closing of the bank a great loss for the community and said Community Bank was not forthcoming with its response.

“I think (the closing) is going to have a negative effect, not
necessarily on the community bank’s financial situation,” Hesse said, who called the presence of the bank an asset to the community where the workers were personable and familiar with Otego residents.

Hesse also said there had not been much communication from the bank after the letter was sent.

“I know numerous people who have made phone calls to the principal parties,” Hesse said, but there has been “no effort” made by Community Bank or Wentworth. He said the responses they got were “patronizing at best and certainly hypocritical.”

Hesse said he knew many people would be stopping their service with Community Bank including himself.

“It’s a loss to the community,” Hesse said.

Community Bank will also be consolidating its branch on Main Street in Cooperstown to its
location on Route 28 in the town of Otsego.


3 thoughts on “Otego residents lament loss of local bank as Community closes branch

  1. Amy Jo Rock

    My believe’s that it’s not fair to the community at all. I myself has used that Bank in the past and and on several occasions which was Very convenient for me. Something should be done about this, to accommodate the customers in the area.

  2. CHARLES ECKELMANN

    Shame on Community bank. I will close all my accounts with them. Sidney Federal Credit Union is on the way, before you get to the Chestnut St branch. You could cut the distance by a little. Sorry CBNA

  3. Ellen Weir

    Main Street in Cooperstown is not welcoming to locals anymore. It might look pretty but it’s not functioning. Small towns everywhere are having a difficult time, but businesses have not been given top priority. Possibly an over abundance of baseball oriented shops and paid parking. Sad.

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