2005-03-04 / Community

NFB Posts Far Rockaway Branch Hours

North Fork Bank notified clients of new business hours for its Seagirt Boulevard location, which was slated to close next month. The announcement follows fierce protesting by seniors in the area, who said eliminating the branch would cause them great hardship.

“[W]e have met with several civic groups and have re-evaluated our decision. In order to continue to serve our clients in Far Rockaway, we will be keeping the branch located at 17-39 Seagirt Boulevard open,” said NFB Executive Vice President Carolyn A. Drexel in a letter to clients. “We are sensitive to our customers’ wishes, and want to provide the best service possible,” Drexel added.

Beginning April 4, the branch will be open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., the letter says.

“At least they’re trying,” said Florence Altschuler, a disabled senior who contacted The Wave in December, 2004 after she received a letter that said the branch would be permanently closed. The first letter Altschuler received said the location would be replaced by the new branch – obtained through the acquisition of Green Point Bank – located at 21-10 Mott Avenue. That location will be open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The news that her trusted bank was relocating was distressing, but Altschuler and other senior citizens banded together with leadership of Floyd Smith III and Concerned Citizens for the Rockaways. NFB Senior Vice President George Vogel attended a meeting at the Jewish Association for Services to the Aged (JASA) in January, where he said the bank location would remain open part-time.

Smith said he was “skeptical” of the bank’s decision to operate the branch on a limited basis and said he plans to poll people in the area in May.

Altschuler said the bank’s decision is a step in the right direction but is worried that the bank will have long lines on the days that it is open. “Those three days are going to be a mob scene over there,” she said. “We have to give it a shot and see how it works out,” she reasoned. Smith said the bank is overcrowded on “check day” and at other times, because the seniors take longer to complete banking tasks.

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