Today’s news:

Van Nest bank to open this spring

After 15 years, a part of Morris Park Avenue will once again have a full-service bank.

Residents of Van Nest and lower Morris Park have not had a bank since a Chemical Bank branch at the corner of White Plains Road and Morris Park Avenue shut its doors.

The community is now experiencing a resurgence, and Cross County Federal Savings Bank will be opening its doors at 791 Morris Park Avenue in the spring.

On Monday, January 3, Senator Jeff Klein, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., bank president Anthony Milone, Robert Ruggiero of the Morris Park Alliance, joined with Community Board 11 district manager John Fratta and community leaders to welcome the new branch.

The community has a large elderly population that finds it difficult to travel long distances to bank.

Klein and Diaz spearheaded efforts to get a bank into the community when he held a meeting in August 2009 with the Morris Park Alliance, Bronx Business Alliance, and the state Department of Banking.

“I’ve represented the Van Nest community for more than 15 years and a neighborhood bank is something residents have repeatedly asked for,” Klein said. “I am delighted to announce that in this New Year not only can residents look to conducting their banking closer to home, but businesses in the community now have a financial institution to anchor the future growth and help the local economy thrive.”

Diaz said that the new bank should help with the resurgence of the lower Morris Park community and help businesses attract more shoppers.

“This new bank will bring more shoppers to this commercial district, helping to keep business in the community, while offering new banking opportunities,” Diaz said.

Milone said that he is planning a ribbon cutting for the spring. The bank will employ three to four tellers.

“This is not the first time that Cross County Federal Savings Bank has opened a branch in an undeserved, under-banked area,” Milone said.

“The bank has a branch in Williamsburgh, Brooklyn that has successfully been providing necessary basic banking services for the past six years and is confident that Cross County Federal Savings Bank can provide the same services to the Van Nest residential and business community.”

The Morris Park Alliance has been lobbying for the creation of the bank for the past few years so that businesses in the area could have an account at a nearby bank.

Bobby Ruggiero, Morris Park Alliance president, said that he was pleased that the bank had a community mind-set and is interested in serving local businesses.

“The bank’s leadership team has been attending our monthly meeting for months to get a sense of products and services the bank will need to offer to our merchants,” Ruggiero said. “It has also given our membership an opportunity to personally meet with Anthony Milone, the bank president, Michael Lazar, the chief operating officer, and Antonella Alessi, our new branch manager.”

Bernadette Ferrara, vice president of the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance, said that she was happy the new bank would be joining the community.

Ferrara’s family has lived in the Van Nest community for more than 70 years, and she said the area has almost always had a bankand post office within walking distance.

“This is like welcoming back an old friend,” Ferrara said. “I grew up here in the 1950s in Van Nest, and had always had fond memories of this community, and now we are seeing its resurgence.”

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