Elected officials and community rally to oppose closure of only bank in southern Riverdale

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz speaks about Chase Bank.
Photos by Jason Cohen

The fight for southern Riverdale’s only bank continued last week as community members and elected officials rallied outside of the Chase branch at Knolls Crescent.

On Oct. 15, residents were joined by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Councilman Andrew Cohen and members of Community Board 8 as they protested the planned closure.

The shuttering of the Chase branch at 13B Knolls Crescent would mean that residents have to travel by bus, car or walk on large hills to use banking services. The closest Chase locations to Knolls Crescent are at least 20 minutes away by foot.

However, southern Riverdale has a higher than average percentage of residents who are likely to have limited mobility including seniors and families with strollers.

“How many of you know how to use mobile banking?” said Carol Ann Baker, whose mother Margaret is 95 and a Chase customer. “They need this live branch to go into. This bank is necessary for the community. It is unconscionable for Chase to close this branch.”

She stressed that if the company wants to shutter a location, they should consider one in Manhattan where there are more Chase branches and more millennials who are likely familiar with mobile banking.

Baker, who was quite emotional when speaking, said this isn’t just about banking. Many of the employees at the branch know the seniors on a personal level and work to help them and make sure they are doing OK.

Resident Marion Friedman found out about the planned closure a few weeks ago when her son, who is blind, got a letter in the mail. She was shocked and could not believe Chase was really going through with their decision.

She urged the crowd to take their money out of Chase in the event that another bank replaces Chase.

“As soon as I got the letter, I called Jeffrey Dinowitz’s office and I told him what was going on,” she said.

Dinowitz, Cohen and Eric Dinowitz, the chair of the aging committee for CB8, have all been fighting to keep it open. In a recent phone call between Assemblyman Dinowitz and representatives from Chase, the bank did not cite branch underperformance or lease issues as part of their decision.

The officials said that they did not understand how a business that made $115 billion last year can claim the branch was not profitable.

“If any executives from Chase want to join me on a tour of the neighborhood, I would be happy to show them exactly what they are asking our community to do,” the assemblyman said. “There’s still time for Chase to be the hero here, and I urge them to reconsider this ill-advised decision. We want them to change their mind. We want them to do the right thing.”

Eric Dinowitz said it was clear Chase did not understand the demographics of Riverdale, which is primarily a senior community.

He has sent a letter to Chase and has a petition going around town in response to the bank’s decision to close.

“Chase Bank very clearly does not care about your independence,” he said. “We’re asking Chase Bank to keep this branch open.”

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