Crystal Township discusses options regarding Chemical Bank closure

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 11:54 am on Friday, June 16, 2017

Members of the Crystal Township Board discuss options Wednesday evening regarding the closure of the local Chemical Bank. — Daily News/Cory Smith

CRYSTAL TOWNSHIP — As one community embraces the news of losing one bank yet gaining another, residents in this township continue to scratch their heads regarding the fate of their own bank.

During Wednesday evening’s Crystal Township Board meeting, township officials and residents discussed the pending Aug. 25 closure of the local Chemical Bank.

On Tuesday, residents of Sheridan — where the second Chemical Bank branch within Montcalm County is closing — learned that Sidney State Bank will be opening a branch in Sheridan in lieu of Chemical Bank closing its doors.

Crystal Township Supervisor Chris Johnston listens as members of the public bring forth ideas and opinions Wednesday evening regarding the closure of the local Chemical Bank.

But in Crystal, no such solution to losing the sole bank in the community has been found.

“It’s all up in the air,” Crystal Township Supervisor Chris Johnston said. “I actually went to the bank and talked to them about it and they are still working on the fate of the building.”

Chemical Bank Senior Vice President and Director of Marketing John Hatfield said the decision to close 18 branches statewide was being made because “consumer banking habits continue to trend to online and mobile. Customer banking services (are being completed) without having to visit a branch. The need to have multiple locations within close proximately is no longer as important as it once was.”

Township resident Diana Bailey brought forth a proposal regarding the fate of the bank building during Wednesday’s meeting.

“I have it by good authority that Chemical Bank may donate the building for the use of the library,” she said. “I wanted to encourage you to somehow … we have a very short window of time I think, to put our library into that beautiful building. It’s very sad that we will probably lose our bank, but that would be an awesome outcome.”

According to Johnston, bank officials have been discussing the possibility of donating the building for the future home of Crystal Community Library; however, he said there are many questions that would need to be answered for that to happen.

“They are talking about the donation of the building to the Crystal library, but Crystal does not have a library, it’s Carson City’s library, which is a branch in Crystal,” he said.

Since 2011, the township board has discussed moving the library from its location at 221 W. Lake St. to the Crystal Community Center, as the current building is in disrepair.

News of the potential donation of the bank building comes on the heels of the Crystal Community Library finally moving to the community center as the township board was prepared to review four requests for proposals (RFPs) Wednesday regarding improvements that need to be performed to a room at the community center where the library would be housed.

Trustee Curt McCracken was concerned about who would pay utility bills if the library were to relocate to the bank building. Johnston said that question has no answer at this time.

“The bank has spent $6,000 so far this year in utility bills, five months into the year,” he said. “I’ll tell you, I’m not real eager to spend more money like that, but it’s not up to us, because it’s not our library.”

Johnston was not sure if the Carson City Library Board would be willing to absorb the potential higher utility costs that would come with the bank building, if it were to receive the building.

Township resident Charlie Braman said he would like the township to find another bank to replace Chemical Bank.

“I’m sure that we’re all very disappointed if the bank leaves up here, but I think the township needs to take a foot forward and see if we can get another bank to get here,” he said. “I have no doubt I’d be standing in line to change banks. I think we need to push it just like Sheridan did. I think we need to go to Sidney Bank, sit down with them, and see if they’d be willing to bring a bank to Crystal also.”

Crystal Downtown Development Authority Chairman David Wight wrote a letter to Chemical Financial President and Chief Executive Officer David Ramaker.

“I firmly believe there is a way to support Chemical in re-sizing its Crystal Branch business and to retain the support of the community,” Wight wrote in his letter.

Wight suggested Chemical Bank reduce its business footprint to a downsized single drive-thru window with supporting ATM in order to “reduce employment needs.”

“The bank in Crystal has been a cornerstone of the Crystal community for over 90 years and working together we can find a way to continue Chemical Bank’s presence in Crystal and retain the support and trust of the Crystal Township residents,” he wrote.

Johnston and Wight said they would continue discussions with the bank, and Johnston hopes to speak with Ramaker to seek out solution regarding all options discussed.
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