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City Council Joins Fight to Save Post Offices

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The Pitt Station Post Office on Clinton Street faces possible closure

The City Council’s Committee on Governmental Affairs held a hearing yesterday on a resolution in support of keeping local post offices open. As we have been reporting, the U.S. Postal Service is looking at closing 14 postal locations in the city, including the Pitt Station Post Office on Clinton Street. The resolution would urge Congress to pass two bills.

The first bill, H.R. 22, the “United States Postal Service Financial Relief Act” would allow the USPS to tap into its retirement health benefits fund to help pay for health insurance for its retirees, freeing up $3.5 billion in the operating budget. In theory, the move would alleviate the need to close so many post offices across the country. The second bill, H.R. 658, the “Access to Postal Services Act,” would require the USPS to hold public hearings and to justify closures. The Postal Service supports the first bill but not the second, saying it would be too restrictive. “In these challenging times, the Postal Service needs greater flexibility to make management decisions to sustain the business, a Postal Service spokesman said.

In the past several weeks, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney have been fighting the closure of the Pitt Station. They’ve collected thousands of signatures from residents and met with Postal officials. At yesterday’s hearing, State Senator Daniel Squadron joined their fight.

In testimony before the committee, Squadron highlighted the fact that the post office, located in the Seward Park Co-op, serves a large number of senior citizens:

If the Pitt Street Station post office were to close, the closest
post office would be Knickerbocker Station, which is problematic for
several reasons. Firstly, the Knickerbocker Station is located ten
blocks away from the Pitt Street Station, a walk that is generally
difficult for senior citizens. Secondly, unlike the Pitt Street
Station, the Knickerbocker Station is not located on a bus line.
Residents who currently use the bus to reach the post office would no
longer have this option. Finally, while the Pitt Street Station is
located at street level and is ADA accessible, the Knickerbocker
station requires the use of an elevator for accessibility. Elevator use
very often results in long wait times, and community members report
that the Knickerbocker Station elevator is often out of order… The Pitt Street Station post office is just one example of a post
office whose closure would devastate a New York neighborhood, but there
are many others. New York is a city of neighborhoods, and no matter
what the circumstances, the local post office is a vital element of any
neighborhood. There is still no service quite like it. That’s why I
would argue that even as the USPS faces the real need to reduce costs,
there simply must be a different equation for New York City, one that
takes our unique communities and pedestrian culture into account, and
that makes community input a top priority in all considerations.

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  1. As Harold Lasswell said, “Politics is who gets what, when, and how.” The first bill would transfer risk from USPS customers (risk their PO would be shut down) to USPS employees (risk their pension fund will go broke). The second bill would transfer the risk of PO closures from NYC residents to everybody else in the country. Doesn’t seem very productive.

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