A second rally was held at the Grand Station Post Office in Astoria last week, in an effort to save it from closure.
If the Postal Service goes through with its plans, the Astoria office, located on 30th Avenue, will be one of five outlets shut down in Queens and nearly 3,700 total nationwide. The first rally to save the Astoria site took place on Aug. 2.
At last week’s rally, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan and Queens) and Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) announced they had collected nearly 1,000 signatures from Queens residents who want to keep the station open. The Postal Service seeks to close this station and others to stave off the billions of dollars in losses it has suffered in recent years.
While there are three other post offices within a mile and a half of the Astoria station — one of the reasons the Post Office designated it for shuttering — Maloney argued that the distance to these other locations would be too far to walk for some residents, including the many senior citizens living in the neighborhood.
“The bottom line is, there is a line here every single day,” Maloney said of the Astoria station. “It is a long ways to the next station.”
Both Maloney and Vallone said business at the post office would grow since the number of people in the area is growing.
“Queens always gets the short end of the stick,” Vallone said. Referring to controversial Census data that showed Astoria had lost residents, Vallone remarked: “The government can’t even count how many people are living [here].”
The Grand Station made over $560,000 last year, just $40,000 shy of a threshold the Postal Service set for avoiding closure.
“This post office makes more money than most post offices in the United States,” Maloney countered.
A crowd of protesters carrying signs, including members of a neighborhood senior center, and other concerned residents attended the rally.
A final decision on the post office won’t be made until later this year or early next year, once the Postal Service has finished gathering information on all the stations slated for closure. Maloney said she had written U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, urging him to keep the Astoria station open.
Maloney’s office said she has been a part of two successful campaigns to keep post offices open to date.
“It’s your right as citizens to have a functioning post office,” said Chuck Zlatkin, an American Postal Workers Union representative, during the rally.
“We drop love letters in that blue box,” said John Dirzius, another union representative, pointing to a post office box in front of the station. “We drop mortgages in that blue box.”
At one point during the rally, highlighting the underlying reason the Postal Service has struggled, a member of the crowd shouted: “An e-card will never be the same!”