Those who were worried after the United States Postal Service released a tentative list late last year of five branches in Queens that were slated for possible closure can rest easy, at least for the time being, as they have all been taken off the list. But the USPS is still in dire financial straits and will have to find the money somewhere to continue operating.
Stations in Astoria and Arverne were removed from the list in November and news that the remaining three — Holliswood, Rosedale and Rockaway Beach — would be spared was announced by the USPS this week.
The fate of the Whitestone processing facility, which is being considered for consolidation or closure resulting in the loss of about 1,000 jobs, has still not been decided, Connie Chirichello, a spokeswoman for the USPS said in an email Tuesday.
In order to cut costs, the USPS is considering shutting down thousands of branches nationwide, because the agency says it has lost billions in recent years due to increased use of the Internet.
Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Queens, Nassau), who had written a letter to postal officials in support of keeping the Holliswood branch open citing its financial success and necessity in the community, was pleased to hear it would not be closing its doors.
“The decision to keep the Holliswood Post Office open is terrific news,” Ackerman said in a prepared statement. “Now local residents can continue to take advantage of the convenience and important postal services that this neighborhood branch provides.”
In his letter, written last September, Ackerman stated that closing the facility would adversely affect hundreds of customers, particularly senior citizens, about 200 of whom utilize the branch each day.
“While the proximity of other post offices may appear as practical alternatives, they simply will not be sufficient to meet the needs of these seniors who would be forced to take public transportation to the next nearest office; some that would be required to take two buses each way,” Ackerman wrote. “This option would be unacceptable as some individuals are constrained by medical and financial restrictions.”
The lawmaker also said that there were thousands of other post offices that make significantly less money than Holliswood, which generated $520,725 in revenue the 2010 fiscal year. The Postal Regulatory Commission lists that 2,825 post offices earn less than $27,000 per year, according to Ackerman.
After conducting feasibility studies, which are done on a case-by-case basis, taking into account factors such as an analysis of current office needs, customer access to postal products and services, the condition of the facility, lease terms, retail transactions and community input, the Queens stations were saved.
“We look at this data and the overall impact to customers and the local community, employees, the environment and the actual cost savings before any decision is made,” Chirichello said in an email. “The input from our customers who use the station on a regular basis, as well as the community, employees and elected officials is an essential part of the process.”
The USPS has a retail network of nearly 32,000 facilities, but with more people using alternate sources to communicate, and technology is sending the traditional letter the way of the dinosaur, the agency can not sustain, nor does it need, such a large network, Chirichello said.
As part of its contining effort to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs, the agency will study stations that can be consolidated or closed without affecting customer service, Chirichello added.