Cecil residents oppose PNC’s closure of bank

March 1, 2013
PNC bank is moving to close its branch office in Cecil Township. - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

PNC Bank claims it is no longer feasible to operate its Cecil Township branch, although it’s the only bank in town.

Subsequently, PNC will close the Millers Run Road branch May 17, despite opposition from township residents.

“We are continually evaluating our branch network. We have found that people are using branches differently than in the past, choosing to use (automated teller machines) or mobile and online banking,” said PNC spokesman Amy Vargo.

Vargo said it’s with this in mind that PNC decided to close the Cecil branch. The closest branch for Cecil customers will now be six miles away in Bridgeville with other branches located on West Pike Street in Canonsburg and at the Shop ’n Save in South Fayette Township.

“This branch has been on the decline, demonstrating that customers were electing to use other branches or alternatives such as online banking,” Vargo said.

Customers who had opened accounts at the Cecil bank were notified of the closure by mail. However, Cindy Fisher, who is leading a grassroots campaign to keep the bank, said she knew nothing about the closure although she banks there regularly.

“They have records of my account. They have my address here in Cecil,” said Fisher, who said with five children a local bank is not only convenient but a necessity.

But, Fisher, 32, said she’s not as worried about how the bank closure will affect her, but more so for the many senior citizens who live in the township.

The bank is located next to the post office and only a short distance from the township building, which also houses a senior citizens center.

On Wednesday, Fisher and several other concerned residents set up a website where people can sign an online petition opposing the bank’s closing.

“This will leave the Cecil area without a bank for the first time in decades, and will create unreasonable hardships on residents, many of whom are senior citizens who have trouble traveling to another branch or making use of electronic banking. The closing will have a negative impact on existing local businesses who require a local bank and also deter new businesses from moving into the area. Even people who aren’t PNC customers will feel the impact of the branch’s closure,” the petition reads.

The petition goes on to state, “Improving PNC’s profit margin is insufficient to justify depriving the people of Cecil Township of a community asset without a detailed and honest explanation. Cecil Township is a nationally recognized, award-winning, growing community, and if PNC chooses to abandon us, don’t be surprised if we abandon PNC in favor of another bank willing to commit to a local presence.”

According to Fisher, residents are asking PNC to reconsider the closing of the Cecil branch or meet with them to hear their complaints and learn firsthand about the impact the bank’s decision to leave will have.

Fisher said 206 people have signed the petition since its posting online. She was unaware how many people have signed paper petitions that are being circulated in the township.

One of the petition’s supporters is state Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, who has lived in the township all of his life. His district office and private law office are also in the township.

“I’m a customer myself,” said White. “But, even if you’re not a customer, it’s not good for the community not to have a bank.”

White said there’s been a bank at the PNC site for at least 50 years and it has always been heavily used. And, he pointed out there are more people and businesses now in the township than there ever were in years past.

“I’m reaching out to PNC to at least come out and talk to the community,” White stated. “If they (PNC) can justify the decision, then fine. They’re entitled to know.”

Fisher said she plans to bring up the issue at Monday night’s supervisors meeting. “I’m going to ask the supervisors to sign the petition,” she said.

While a full-service bank will no longer be in the township, Vargo said PNC plans to put the most advanced ATM at the site. The machine will dispense denominations lower than $20 and allow depositing without an envelope, she explained.

Vargo added, however, “We will review the petition once it is received and evaluate the concerns raised by individuals.”

Linda Metz has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2000, covering Washington County courts and politics, as well as the city of Washington. She previously was employed by the Tribune Review. She is a graduate of Point Park College, now a university, in Pittsburgh.

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