Just a couple of minutes into his remarks to Chase Bank representatives on the Island this morning, Supervisor Gary Gerth said he was interrupted and told that he had won his case and the officials have reversed the decision to close the branch on North Ferry Road.
While referring specific questions to bank spokeswoman Candace Cartiglia, Mr.Gerth said after hearing from so many Islanders about what the loss of the bank would mean to them, the decision to shutter the branch was re-examined and plans to close in September were abandoned.
In response to an email sent to Ms. Cartiglia, Erich Timmerman, who handles public relations for J.P. Morgan Chase, sent a statement saying, “We consider a number of factors when it comes to decisions on our branch footprint and we’re happy to continue serving Shelter Island.”
“I can’t believe it,” Mr. Gerth said about the decision. “It was amazing.”
He had looked at the meeting this morning as a preliminary sit-down to what he anticipated would be a referral to other decision makers at the corporate level at J.P. Morgan Chase, but that’s no longer necessary.
The original decision to close had been taken with the assumption that Chase customers here could just as easily be served by branches on either the North or South forks. But when decision-makers learned that it would be necessary to travel by ferry to either fork to handle any in-person transactions, the case was apparently clear.
Among the issues town officials and others explained were difficulties seniors could have if they needed banking services off Island. Business owners also expressed concern about an inability to make night cash drops at a bank without having to leave the Island.
The town has many of its accounts with Chase Bank, some for a long period of time and others transferred there after Capital One closed its Island branch on West Neck Road last November.
For that reason, Mr. Gerth was accompanied at this morning’s meeting by Town Clerk Dorothy Ogar to explain what a branch closing would mean to the government here.
Also participating in the morning meeting was Town Attorney Bob DeStefano Jr., the supervisor said.
If there’s more information coming from bank officials, it will be posted on the website as soon as it’s received.