A Freedom of Information Law request filed by The Spotlight to obtain the Town of Bethlehem's bid on the Normanside Country Club property has been denied by the town. Officials cited a portion of the law that allows records to be withheld that if disclosed would impair present or imminent contract awards or collective bargaining negotiations.
The Bank of America's sealed bidding process for the property closed yesterday.
Also denied under the same provision was a FOIL request for a summary of the vote taken on Wednesday authorizing the bid. Members of the Town Board on Wednesday evening declined to discuss the vote and whether it was unanimous.
The Spotlight plans to appeal the decisions.
Bethlehem Supervisor Sam Messina told The Spotlight before tonight's Town Board meeting that the town has, in fact, submitted a sealed bid for Normanside Country Club.
Messina read a statement at the beginning of the meeting.
"Although the Town Board consistently strives for openness and transparency, in this case we had to operate in executive session," he said. "If the Town Board had revealed it's position in an open forum, there is a substantial possibility that the cost of any Town acquisition would have rapidly increased."
He continued on to say that the Board could not reveal what the amount of the bid was, and that it could not comment any further. This was done to protect any future negotiations with Bank of America,which currently has control of the golf course, or other possible bidders who could potentially acquire the debt.
"We would note that it is possible that a national concern could acquire the Normanside debt as part of a bid for a block of bank assets, and that they could re-sell the Normanside piece," he said. "We would not want our bid to the bank revealed to potential local competitors for this property."