For the first time in more nearly two decades, a section of Morris Park Avenue now has a full-service bank.
Despite a recent economic resurgence in the community, the Van Nest section of Morris Park Avenue has been operating without a bank, a vital business for any neighborhood, for over 15 years.
The community, which has a large elderly population, has not had their own bank since a Chemical Bank on the corner of White Plains Road and Morris Park Avenue shut down. Since its closing, the closest banks for Van Nest residents and businesses are at least a mile away.
On Monday, June 27, dozens of local residents, as well as Senator Jeff Klein, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Congressman Joe Crowley, and Morris Park Alliance president Bobby Ruggiero, gathered at 791 Morris Park Avenue to officially open Van Nest’sCross County Federal Savings Bank.
The absence of a bank has slowed down neighborhood revitalization efforts for years, but Senator Klein, who initiated the efforts to bring a full-service bank back to Van Nest, is confident that Cross County Federal Savings Bank will boost the community.
“It’s very difficult to send a message to community residents, or businesses, that the Van Nest community is thriving without a local bank,” Klein said. “A bank becomes a focal point of a community, allowing local residents to do their banking conveniently. I think Cross County Federal Savings Bank has said loud and clear that they believe in the people and the businesses of Van Nest.”
In December 2009, Klein met with Community Board 11, the Morris Park Alliance, and Van Nest community leaders, to bring a bank back to the area.
After the meeting, Senator Klein and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. were able to attract Cross County Federal Savings Bank and according to bank president Anthony Milone, the chance to bring a branch to the Van Nest community was an incredible opportunity.
“We were really excited to come here. We heard the community wanted a bank, and that’s exactly what they got,” Milone said. “We offer the same as any other bank, but this is Van Nest’s bank now.”
The announcement of the new bank, which came in January, was overshadowed this spring with the announcement of the closing of the Van Nest Post Office coming on Friday, August 12. Many local residents agreed that the addition of Cross County Federal Savings bank could not have come at a better time.
“I have been here for so many years and we hit a little bit of a bottom, but we are on our way back up,” said Bernadette Ferrara, vice president of the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance. “Having a bank back in our community is a huge step towards the direction that everyone wants to go in. This is a dream come true for the Van Nest community.”