Updated Sept. 29, 9:50 a.m.
BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
Springfield Gardens residents rallied with state Senator Leroy Comrie and other advocates Friday outside a Chase Bank slated to close, calling for the financial giant to reverse its decision.
Comrie was joined by Councilman I. Daneek Miller, Democratic Assembly nominee Alicia Hyndman, NAACP Jamaica branch president Leroy Gadsden, and a large number of residents and community members fighting to keep the branch located at 134-40 Springfield Blvd. open.
The Chase Bank branch is centrally located in the outdoor Pathmark Shopping Center at the intersection of Springfield and Merrick boulevards. It is adjacent to a walk-in medical clinic, a Pathmark supermarket and the community’s Municipal Credit Union (MCU).
During Friday’s rally, Comrie called upon Chase to reverse its decision given the groundswell of community support as well as the need for the financial institution.
“As not only the representative of this community but a loyal customer of Chase Bank, I see the vital function it plays every day in keeping commerce flowing,” Comrie said in a statement. “Evidence points to the great financial potential of this community. Instead of pulling out, Chase should recognize its very real possibility to be the fiscal and commercial hub of southeast Queens.”
Comrie’s fellow civic and community leaders voiced similar concerns during the rally regarding the effects the bank’s closure may have on the neighborhood.
“A closure of this Chase branch is a net negative for both our community and the bank,” Miller said. “In a community like ours, comprised of homeowners, middle to upper income families, and a growing commercial district in downtown Jamaica, it’s puzzling from a business perspective that Chase would want to reduce their presence in southeast Queens. It is my hope that the bank will realize this branch’s significance to local residents, as well as our community’s contribution to the institution, and that the business will remain open.”
Both Hyndman and Gadsden echoed the need for responsible banking and financial institutions like Chase Bank in underserved communities.
“Chase not long ago made a promise to this state to work with the feedback communities provide to improve business relations and help local economies,” Hyndman said. “This is the exact antithesis of that. Before Chase closes this branch, they need to seriously reconsider the community’s need and their own responsibility to act in good faith to minority communities.”
“One of the main things that stabilize the community are their banks,” Gadsen added. “If Chase bank wants our business across America and all the benefits that come with being federally recognized, they should be sharing services with the minority community. Not doing so is a form of economic discrimination. We expect the same type of service in the black community as everywhere else.”
The impending closing of the Chase Bank branch is not the only change coming to this community hub. The neighboring Pathmark supermarket will soon be replaced by a Stop and Shop super store after Pathmark’s parent company, Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P), filed for bankruptcy in July.
“We hope that Chase will not abandon this community and remain a fixture for all who rely on it,” Comrie concluded.
Chase has three other branches located within a mile of the Springfield Gardens branch. A Chase representative declined to comment to The Courier on the matter.