Bank of Greene County to open branch in Woodstock

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Don’t worry about losing a sense of bricks and mortar banking options when Bank of America closes its doors at its Bradley Meadows location April 24. Although they don’t have a definitive opening date set yet, the Bank of Greene County has announced that it will open a branch office at the site after a “complete” renovation and upgrading.

“This is a very exciting announcement as this will be our bank’s second branch located in Ulster County,” said Bank of Greene County president and CEO Donald Gibson in a press release. “We are opening the new branch due to overwhelming customer demand… While we have had a significant presence for many years in Ulster County, this will be our first branch in Woodstock.”

Headquartered in Catskill, where it was founded as the Building & Loan Association of Catskill in 1889, the Bank of Greene County (renamed in 1998) prides itself as “the only locally based bank with offices in Ulster, Greene, Columbia and Albany Counties.” As of 2016, its assets were listed as totaling 868 million, with a net income of $8.96 million. In addition to Kingston, and soon Woodstock, the bank has branches in Catskill, Cairo, Chatham, Copake, Coxsackie, Germantown, Greenport, Hudson, Ravena, Tannersville, and Westerlo. It maintains a charitable foundation to support “education, the arts, affordable housing, and other worthy causes” that has disbursed over $1 million over the past 20 years, and has also stressed a commitment to historic preservation throughout its recent history.

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Bank of America announced its plans to close its Woodstock branch last autumn, citing changes brought on by the surge of online banking in recent years and pointing out, via a spokesperson, that, “staffed inventory is an expense.” They’ve suggested that their local customers shift their in-person banking to branches on Ulster Avenue and Washington Avenue in Kingston, seven miles away.

The site of the bank was originally an A&P supermarket, and later a Norstar Bank, until that entity was bought out by Fleet. Bank of America had been renting the space since 2004.

Checking on the mural

Among its attributes is a large, long landscape mural by Paul Wesley Arndt, painted some time in the early 1960s and built around and resuscitated through the bank’s various identity changes since. This winter, Bradley Meadows co-owner Bob Whitcomb said that, “the plaza is aware of the mural and its value to the community. At the moment it is staying in place…We want it available to the town’s people.”

Bank of Greene County has not confirmed its plans for the mural yet, although its history of preservation includes its work to save similar building details and art over its years of building acquisitions.

“The new branch a full service office, will feature a cyber-café, drive-up windows, a 24 hour ATM, safe deposit boxes, and has ample parking,” noted Gibson. “We believe the Woodstock community will like our style of banking…While the bank has not set a definite date for a branch opening, it is our intention to immediately proceed with the design and renovations. We have targeted the fourth quarter of 2018 for the grand opening.”

As for future hiring at the site, Bank of Greene County said they planned “to staff the office with a combination of experienced bank staff and will be accepting applications from potential new employees, hopefully from the Woodstock area.”