Local bank merger approved by customers

February 22, 2008
By

JOHN RUCH

JP CENTER—The proposed merger of Roxbury Highland Bank of Jamaica Plain and South Boston’s Mt. Washington Bank was approved by depositors of both banks over the past two weeks.

Pending approval from banking regulatory agencies, Roxbury Highland’s sole office at 515 Centre St. will become a branch of Mt. Washington, possibly by May.

“I think it’s going to be good for the community, depositors [and] staff,” said Roxbury Highland board chair Thomas Carrigg.

Mt. Washington president Ed Merritt said he is pleased that Roxbury Highland’s outreach about the merger allowed him “to really see firsthand what that bank means to the community.”

“When we talk about preserving the legacy of that bank, we’re very serious about that,” Merritt said.

The 119-year-old Roxbury Highland and the 115-year-old Mt. Washington are both mutual, or cooperative, banks owned by their depositors and with roots in providing loans to immigrant communities.

The merger required votes of approval from depositors of both banks.

Roxbury Highland depositors voted 27 to 1 in favor of the merger at a Feb. 7 meeting, according to Carrigg.

Mt. Washington depositors voted unanimously in favor of the merger at a Feb. 12 meeting, according to Merritt.

The boards of both banks unanimously approved the merger as well.

Roxbury Highland is the second-smallest bank in the state and is unable to survive in the current marketplace, according to board and staff members. Mt. Washington is much larger and offers many more services, though Merritt has said it intends to operate solely within Boston to remain a community bank.

Under the terms of the merger, Mt. Washington has agreed to retain any current staff members who want to stay; keep the 515 Centre office open; and contribute to the Roxbury Highland Charitable Foundation, a separate organization based at the bank that gives local grants.

If all goes as planned, Merritt said, Mt. Washington is aiming for the weekend of June 20 as the target for Roxbury Highland’s system to shift entirely to that of Mt. Washington.