Bayside residents appear solid in their opposition to the U.S. Postal Service’s plan to move the main post office on 42nd Avenue to a remote annex on 216th Street that has no parking.
Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-Queens, Nassau) announced last week that he had learned that the postal service is seeking to relocate the branch sometime next year, but that no jobs would be lost. Both Bayside properties are leased and Ackerman was told the move would save the agency money.
“Moving the Bayside branch from its prime spot in the middle of the area’s busy commercial strip to a remote and inconvenient location makes absolutely no sense,” he said. “Not only would this plan adversely impact the local residents and businesses who use this facility, but it could likely cause a further erosion in postal business since its customers may not trek to this out of the way location.”
Ackerman added that he has received no official communication on the change, but that as a consolidation of facilities it requires public notice and input. “I urge the postal service to reconsider its decision,” Ackerman said.
Area residents say the post office, located at 212-35 42 Ave., just off Bell Boulevard, has been there at least since 1955 and is a landmark in the community. There is parking outside the facility.
The annex, located at 41-29 216 St., is on a dead-end street that abuts the Long Island Rail Road tracks. The historic Lawrence Cemetery is across the street. There is little street parking, if any, because postal workers leave their cars on the street, sometimes double-parking.
There is a pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks that the city is considering removing because of its rundown condition and lack of use. That would isolate the annex even further from the community.
Grace Gaynor, who lives near the annex, said she is used to the post office on 42nd Avenue and would hate to see it close. “I have lived in the community since 1955 and it’s always been there,” Gaynor said. “It’s a historic fixture.”
A man identifying himself only as Leck, who works for the Briarwood Organization, a Bayside real estate group, said the company has had a postal box there for 20 years. “We come every day,” he said. “This place has parking.”
Claire Polo, who lives in Bay Terrace, says she comes to Bayside twice a week by bus to shop and go to the post office. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” Polo said. “I want the post office to stay here.”
Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) said the move would be hard on area merchants. “The businesses will now have to go all the way to the Bay Terrace or Little Neck post offices for postal service,” Halloran said. “This is a major burden on small businesses.”
He, also, was kept in the dark about the potential move and believes residents and merchants “deserve to have their voices heard before any action is taken.”
Michael Feiner, president of the Bayside Hills Civic Association, says he understands about cost-cutting measures, but doesn’t think this is a wise one. “We cannot sit idly by and allow the Bayside Post Office to be downsized and moved from its current location to that inconvenient spot that is apparently under consideration,” Feiner said. “I stand wholeheartedly on the side of the opposition.”
Jerry Iannece, chairman of Community Board 11 and a Bayside resident, was even more vehement in his opposition to the plan: “It’s shortsightedness and bureaucratic garbage.”
Iannece said the Bayside Post Office is one of the busiest in Queens and thinks the USPS should have first studied how the move would impact the area.
“We can protest and show our outrage, but I think they’ve made up their mind,” he added.
Maureen Marion, regional manager for the Postal Service’s Corporate Communications in the Northeast Area, said the review on consolidating the two facilities is still underway.
Marion noted that public meetings on the closures of large facilities, such as processing centers, are legislatively mandated. But she indicated that may not be the case for the Bayside Post Office.
“Other reviews, which present different levels of local impact and potential postal savings, call for different activities as decisions are finalized. In all cases, we work within the requirements given to us,” Marion said.