CONEY ISLAND — The Municipal Credit Union has announced that it will be closing six branches on January 31, 2020 including the Coney Island branch on 1904 Surf Avenue at MCU Park, one of the neighborhood’s last full-service banking institutions.
Nearby residents will either have to take their business to the Citibank branch at 3002 Mermaid Avenue or leave the neighborhood for their basic banking needs altogether. After Hurricane Sandy, Chase Bank left their Coney Island trailer in December 2015 and never returned although the bank offers a popular ATM at 1428 Mermaid Avenue.
Local elected officials reacted to the closure with surprise and outrage.
“My office knew nothing about this and what is even more appalling is that it is happening on city-owned land that was rezoned in 2009 to make way for ‘revitalized’ Coney Island,” said Councilman Mark Treyger who represents the neighborhood. “Another urgent reminder for Mayor de Blasio and his administration to speak up, step up and tackle this crisis happening under their watch.”
Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus said MCU’s decision to close the Coney Island branch left the Western end of the peninsula, between Stillwell Avenue and West 37th Street, “severely underbanked” but the move seems to be part of a nationwide trend.
“There has been a pattern across our country in recent years for banks to retreat from lower-income neighborhoods and the consequences have meant that poor families often get cut out of banking altogether,” Frontus, who has lived in Coney Island for 35 years, said.
In 2017, there were about 122,009 people living in Coney Island, according to the Furman Center, 26.2% of which are senior citizens.
Residents who use the branch said the closure will be a severe inconvenience.
“The closest one will be in Flatbush Avenue, very far,” Maryanne, whose husband works for the city’s Human Resources Administration, told Bklyner while she waited in line at the branch. “I had my banking at Chase and here, but then when Chase closed about four years ago, I switched everything to here.”
Maryanne said she was unsure what she will do after January 31, but she could switch back to Chase and bank in Brighton Beach.
Natasha Banks has been a member of the MCU for the past decade and said the location helped her receive hands-on banking services without going far, adding that local non-MCU network ATMs would be costly — MCU charges $3 in addition to the host ATM fees.
“I thought the whole point of placing MCU here was to help members of the community have quicker and easier access to banking services,” Banks said. “It’s just a big inconvenience overall and does not seem like it would improve anything much.”
The branch manager said she was not allowed to give any comments to the press and would not answer questions about the future of bank employees who work at branches scheduled to be closed.
The bank announced the five other locations set for closure were East Meadow, East Side, Melville, Oceanside, and Yonkers. After the closures, the nearest-to-Coney Island MCU branches in Brooklyn at 2142 Branch Avenue and 1560 Flatbush Avenue will be “express” branches that will provide ATMs and 24-hour depositing services but no teller services.
Brandon Patterson, an aide to State Senator Diane Savino said the Senator would be reaching out to MCU to discuss the closure but had no further comment at press time.