By Courtney Dentch
Brinkerhoff Action Association members criticized the U.S. Postal Service Monday night for removing drop boxes on streets and disrupting service in their Jamaica neighborhood.
The civic invited Postal Service officials Thomas Daniel, customer relations coordinator, and Robert Lettieri, customer services manager, to its meeting to discuss the removal of several underused mailboxes in the area of 110th Avenue and Merrick Boulevard. But the discussion soon turned to other concerns, including the survival of the Postal Service.
Daniel told the crowd of about 50 people that a sharp drop in overall mail volume may force the U.S. Postal Service to cut back on services or even close in the future. He attributed the decline to a number of problems, including e-mail, terrorism and anthrax scares after Sept. 11, and the recent spate of pipe bombs found in residential mailboxes in the Midwest.
“There’s a serious chance that not only will the mailbox be missing, but the letter carrier may be missing, too,” he said. “The post office may be missing.”
Despite promised to talk to Association President Manuel Caughman about restoring some mailboxes, members remained upset by the removal. Boxes were removed because they collected less than 20 pieces of mail a day, Daniel said.
Local resident and former postal worker Allan Burnett blasted the Postal Service for not informing the community about the removal.
“There was no notification that you were removing the boxes, they just disappeared,” he said. “A lot of people don’t have a car. They can’t get to a post office.”
But Daniel said the Postal Service has been telling elected officials, community boards, and other groups about the changes since January.
“Some responsibility goes to the community leaders,” he said.
Caughman disputed this claim, however.
“I am a member of Community Board 12 and the Democratic Club and the first time I heard about it is when someone asked me what happened to the mailbox,” he said.
Other residents complained of service problems, including mail left on stoops rather than in boxes, packages that have to be picked up at the post office rather than delivered, and letter carriers who will not accept outgoing mail. Some pointed to service disruptions on their regular carrier’s days off, saying they often did not receive their mail until early the next morning.
“My normal letter carrier is good, but every time he’s off my mail ends up somewhere else,” said Andretta Dennis.
Despite the complaints, Caughman and the group pledged to help the Postal Service survive.
“The Postal Service is a necessary entity and I will do everything I need to do to ensure that it stays there,” Caughman said.
Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 138.