Residents oppose possible post office closure
on January 16, 2010
About 30 residents and two city leaders turned out Tuesday to give federal postal officials an emphatic message: They don’t want their post office branch to be closed.
After months of research and mailing out community bulletins, postal officials considering closure of the Station A office at 200 Broadway hosted a community meeting in a city recreation hall to hear residents’ concerns.
“I don’t see why you would close Station A, which has such a close proximity to other public services,” said Ellen Gailing, 56. Gailing, to nods of approval from other residents sitting in the hall, went on to tick off the library, senior center, Richmond Works building and other buildings she said residents, many disabled and indigent, will lose ready access to without the post office branch.
Postal Service representative Albert Martinez had few answers, instead spending most of the more than one hour of open forum assuring residents that he was hearing their concerns and would convey them to upper level post office officials.
“We can only forward all this on to someone else,” Martinez said. “But your concerns here will get to the people who will make the decision.”
Martinez did not offer a timetable for when the small station – which is staffed by one full-time employee – could be shuttered, but several residents in attendance said they feared the closure could come this year.
Residents focused on location, good parking, friendly customer service and accessibility to public transit as reasons to maintain the station. Many barely concealed their anger and offered emotional pleas to the stoic postmaster.
“For you to take this away would be a disgrace, a disgrace,” said Archie Brumfield, 47.
The possible local closure is part of the U.S. Postal Service’s nationwide cost-cutting program. About 170 stations nationwide are being considered for closure. The list of offices was finalized Dec. 14, and is significantly fewer than the original list of nearly 700 potential closures, which was announced last year.
The rise of electronic mail and private competitors has sharply reduced the postal service’s revenue, Martinez said.
“The mail is drying up,” Martinez said.
Labor also opposes the local closure. Stephen Lysaght, president of the American Postal Workers Union, spoke out against the tentative plan to close Station A.
“It’s horrible to even consider closing this station,” Lysaght said. “Revenue was about $350,000 while the lease was under $20,000, it makes no sense.”
Lysaght presented to Martinez a packet he said contained more than 1,500 local residents’ signatures opposing the closure.
If the station is closed, Martinez said five alternate stations are operating within 2.3 miles of the location. The closest office to Station A is the Richmond Main Office, at 1025 Nevin Avenue, about one mile away.
Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Councilman Jim Rogers were on hand. Both spoke out in opposition to the closure, and vowed to work together to propose a resolution opposing closure at the next City Council meeting. Martinez said such a move by city government could sway Postal Service leaders.
“I have received so many e-mails and phone calls from constituents about this,” McLaughlin said. “It’s clearly a well-used office.”
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