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Queens Chronicle

Part of postal plant to stay open after closure

Stavisky: Merchants can still drop off mail until the building is vacant

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Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 12:52 pm, Thu Mar 22, 2012.

The USPS’ Whitestone Distribution and Processing Center may be closing come May, but at least one portion will remain open until the fate of the building is determined, according to an area lawmaker, who said she was given verbal confirmation of the move by postal brass.

State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Whitestone) said that an official at the office of Triboro District Manager Frank Calabrese told her that the portion of the plant that accepts bulk amounts of mail from merchants, known as the Queens Business Mail Entry Unit, will remain open after the plant closes and until the fate of the building is determined. Maureen Marion, a spokeswoman for the USPS, confirmed the deal.

Stavisky said it is rumored that the USPS will sell the building, but the official assured her that by the time operations shut down completely the postal service will have another Queens location in place to accept business mail. Marion said there is no plan to sell the building at this time. She also said the number of workers who will be employed at the Business Mail Entry Unit has yet to be determined.

Stavisky is one of many lawmakers to lambast the USPS for shutting down the plant in an effort to save money. She said there are a number of other ways the agency could balance the books.

“If they really wanted to save money, they could be a little more creative,” Stavisky said. “You don’t improve sales by reducing service.”

She said suggestions have been bandied about such as placing advertisements on mail boxes, the same way they are placed on city buses, and offering gift wrapping, copy and notary services. Stavisky also said she thinks there should be zone pricing, basing the cost of postage on the amount of distance a letter has to travel to get to its destination.

“We don’t know if they have taken any of these suggestions under consideration,” Stavisky said, “because they still haven’t shown us their feasibility study.”

After the Whitestone plant closes, Queens mail will be transported 12 miles to be sorted at a plant in Brooklyn, producing an estimated annual savings of nearly $30.8 million — approximately half from maintenance and half from employee costs.

The latter would be derived through attrition, moving workers to other vacant postal spots for which salary is already allotted or by employees deciding to accept another position at a different agency within the federal government, according to Marion.

“These are very difficult, very personal decisions that have to be made by the employees,” Marion said Monday.

The consolidation plan is based on the idea of changing the one-day standard of delivery for first-class mail to two to three days.

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