Dravosburg residents try to save PNC Bank from closing
State Rep. Bill Kortz believes a community effort can stop a Dravosburg PNC bank branch from closing.
Kortz, a Dravosburg resident, approached council on Tuesday evening to rally the support of borough officials and residents. He asked the community not to sit idly by and watch the bank at 230 Maple Ave. close its doors.
While PNC staff did not attend the meeting and the corporation's media relations department could not be reached at presstime, Kortz said branch manager Terrence Denne confirmed rumors of the facility's planned closure in July.
“I'm asking council to get involved,” Kortz said. “Let's save the bank. It's an institution we need.”
Suggesting that borough residents express the same enthusiasm they did just a year and a half ago when Dravosburg was at risk of losing its post office, Kortz asked council to meet with PNC and for residents to circulate a petition.
Kortz suggested a private session before scheduling a town hall meeting on the issue. Council president Jay McKelvey told Kortz that if he schedules such a meeting, borough officials will attend.
Kortz said PNC likely is not pleased that the borough isn't using the local branch as a depository.
“Everything is negotiable,” Kortz said. “For the borough, for the firemen, the bank might waive its fees ... but we'll never know unless we ask.”
Borough secretary Brenda Honick said Dravosburg moved its accounts to First Commonwealth because that financial institution offered the best rates.
“(PNC) won't give us any deals, Bill,” Honick said. “I've tried. They've given us proposals, and they can't match what we have now.”
Mayor Michelle Vezzani, who served as finance chair during her time on council, agreed with Honick.
“I don't want to see them leave, but they won't negotiate with us,” Vezzani said.
Tax collector Charles Gross asked council to do all it can to prevent the branch closure, because the majority of local taxpayers have PNC accounts.
“Can't we try and do something to keep this bank in town?” he asked.
Gross said banking trends — like those along the turnpike and in grocery stores and big box retailers — are leaning toward self-service.
“They're doing away with people. They want you to use an (ATM) machine,” Gross said. “They don't want people, and they don't want little banks like this.”
Clairton, which lost its PNC branch along Miller Avenue in August, is in the process of putting an ATM at city hall. The city lost its First Commonwealth branch just two years earlier.
“It was a big loss to our city and its businesses,” Clairton Mayor Rich Lattanzi said. “I understand that big corporations have to make financial decisions, but they truly are not sympathetic to a small, struggling community. You can bank on that.”
Kortz said Clairton has experienced the “degradation” that comes along with losing access to banking services. He said losing local access to any service can't help a community.
Residents asked if another regional bank would consider buying the Dravosburg facility, which has been home to financial institutions including Western Pennsylvania National Bank, EquiBank and National City over the years. Officials could not answer their questions.
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or firstname.lastname@example.org.