The company that operates the Berkley Hills Golf Course is seeking a declaratory judgment against the Town of Johnstown in its efforts to solicit requests for proposals for sale, long-term lease, concession agreement or operation and city property management in Upper Canton de Yoder.
Johnstown is accepting offers until 3 p.m. Monday, according to a notice in The Tribune-Democrat.
The five city council members present at a special meeting in July – Mayor Frank Janakovic, Deputy Mayor Marie Mock, Reverend Sylvia King, Dave Vitovich and Jack Williams – voted in favor of releasing the RFP .
Royal Berkshire has operated the course since 2015, and an agreement was reached in late 2014. The original five-year agreement is expected to expire soon.
The company, led by President Derek Hayes, informed the city – in October 2018 – that it intends to exercise a three-year renewal option.
“In the absence of a preliminary injunction and an immediate ban on the sale and / or rental of Berkley Hills, Royal Berkshire will suffer irreparable harm and / or damage in that it will no longer have access and will no longer be in control of Berkley Hills “, according to a case filed – by Ronald Carnevali, lawyer for Royal Berkshire – in the Cambria County Court of Common Pleas.
Carnevali declined to comment, saying the case speaks for itself, although he mentioned that in his opinion any deal to sell the golf course would need
to recognize the management contract with his client.
Royal Berkshire argues that a declaratory judgment will show that the 2014 agreement is valid and enforceable and that it has exercised the right of renewal.
“The issuance of the requested injunction will not harm the public interest,” according to the file.
“On the contrary, Royal Berkshire will demonstrate that approval of the requested injunction will immediately end violations of the October 15, 2014 agreement and allow Royal Berkshire to continue to operate Berkley Hills for the benefit of the local community.”
The initial contract offered the company the possibility of exercising three three-year renewals.
In an interview given a month before the complaint was filed, Hayes said, “We have an agreement to lease it for nine more years, so I’m not sure how they think they can get a deal for another lease.”
City plans to sell golf course – and other assets – in a bid to help settle $ 25 million pension liability before city leaves Pennsylvania’s Law 47 program for municipalities in difficulty by October 2021 at the latest.
Neither City Manager George Hayfield nor the city’s attorney, Beard Legal Group, responded to interview requests on Tuesday.
Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on twitter @Dave_Sutor.