The company that manages Berkley Hills Golf Course is seeking a declaratory judgment against the city of Johnstown in its efforts to solicit requests for proposal for the sale, long-term lease, concession agreement, or operations and management of the city-owned property in Upper Yoder Township.
Johnstown is accepting bids until 3 p.m. Monday, according to a notice published in The Tribune-Democrat.
All five City Council members present during a special meeting in July – Mayor Frank Janakovic, Deputy Mayor Marie Mock, Rev. Sylvia King, Dave Vitovich and Jack Williams – voted in favor of putting out the RFP.
Royal Berkshire has operated the course since 2015, with an agreement having been reached in late-2014. The original five-year deal is set to soon expire.
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 immediate enjoinment of the sale and/or leasing of Berkley Hills, Royal Berkshire will be irreparably harmed and/or damaged in that it will no longer have access to and control over Berkley Hills,” according to a case filed – by Ronald Carnevali, Royal Berkshire’s attorney – in the Cambria County Court of Common Pleas.
Carnevali declined to comment, saying the filing spoke for itself, although he did mention that, in his opinion, any deal to sell the golf course would need
to recognize the management agreement with his client.
Royal Berkshire contends a declaratory judgement will show the 2014 agreement is valid and enforceable and that it has exercised the right to renewal.
“Issuance of the requested injunction will not harm the public interest,” per the filing.
“On the contrary, Royal Berkshire will demonstrate that approval of the requested injunction will immediately cease and terminate violations of the October 15, 2014 Agreement and enable Royal Berkshire to continue operating Berkley Hills for the good of the local community.”
The original contract provided the opportunity for the company to exercise three three-year renewals.
In an interview given a month before the lawsuit was filed, Hayes said, “We have an agreement to lease it for nine more years, so I’m not sure how they feel they can put out an agreement for another lease.”
The city is considering selling the golf course – and other assets – in an attempt to help address a $25 million pension liability in advance of the city exiting Pennsylvania’s Act 47 program for distressed municipalities by no later than October 2021.
Neither City Manager George Hayfield nor the city’s solicitor, Beard Legal Group, responded to requests for an interview on Tuesday.