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Queens Chronicle

Baysiders want post office to stay

Plans to close centrally located facility opposed by community

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Posted: Thursday, August 2, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 10:26 am, Thu Aug 9, 2012.

Community leaders gathered Friday in front of a weedy, neglected entrance to the Bayside Post Office on 42nd Avenue to protest the proposed relocation of the branch.

“This is one of the longest-established businesses in Bayside,” said state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who organized the event. “Moving it to the annex with no parking is absurd.”

Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-Queens, Nassau) announced in July that he had learned the U.S. Postal Service was planning to move the post office into the annex on 216th Street as a cost-cutting measure and that no jobs would be lost. Ackerman noted that the annex is in an out-of-the-way location on a dead-end street with almost no parking.

Later, he questioned postal officials who said consolidating the branch does not require public input.

At Friday’s rally, Avella and Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) said they had not received any official word about the closure, which is expected to happen next year. “This branch is ideally located,” the assemblyman added. “If you remove it you take away from the character of the neighborhood, which has an old-time quality.”

Jerry Iannece, chairman of Community Board 11, said the branch is heavily used and that the plan to move it elsewhere “is idiotic.”

Jack Oshier, a community leader, indicated that although the Postal Service says it is just studying the consolidation plan, engineers are already at work at the annex making plans for the future.

Frank Skala, president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association and a member of CB 11, said if the branch has to close at its current location, it should reopen in a Bell Boulevard storefront. “It’s necessary for businesses,” he said. “The annex is a swamp.”

Although no one was sure how long the facility has been on 42nd Avenue, Avella noted that a 1946 memorial to World War II soldiers is located on the unkempt property. “This place is perfectly located,” he said. “It’s really misguided judgment to move it.”

He thinks the plan will “doom” the post office. “The post office management seems determined to make idiotic decisions,” Avella said.

Andy Rothman, another member of CB 11, said that postal workers get ticketed for double-parking outside the annex because of the lack of parking spaces in the immediate area. Across the street from the facility is the historic Lawrence Cemetery. The street dead ends by the Long Island Rail Road tracks and a neglected pedestrian bridge may be removed, further isolating the annex from the community, he noted.

Avella said he will set up a meeting with postal officials and property owners in the area. “I call on the United States Postal Service to abandon any relocation plans and keep the Bayside Post Office at its current convenient location where it belongs,” he said.“This is a fight we’re not going to give up.”

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