By Rebecca Henely and Ivan Pereira
The U.S. Postal Service is mulling shutting down five post offices in Queens to deal with its rapidly declining budget, but leaders in the affected neighborhoods said the loss of those institutions would devastate their communities.
The agency said it is looking at closing the Grand post office, at 45-08 30th Ave. in Astoria; the Holliswood post office, at 197-33 Hillside Ave.; the Rosedale post office at 145-06 243rd St; the Arverne post office, at 329 Beach 59th St.; , and the Rockaway Beach post office, at 90-14 Rockaway Beach Blvd.
A representative from the USPS said the agency will be holding community meetings in the neighborhoods those offices serve to hear from customers on how the cuts would affect them, but supporters have already started to raise their voices.
Costa Constantinides, an Astoria district leader, held a rally Monday evening in front of the Grand office, attended by state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria). The few passers-by greeted the rally enthusiastically. Two young women joined the rally for a few minutes and a business owner came out of his shop to sign a petition not to close the post office.ï»¿
Protesters said closing a post office would be an unfair burden on seniors and those with disabilities, especially as the community population continues to increase.
“Astoria is a growing, thriving community,” Constantinides said. “We’re growing every day.”
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) also released a statement opposing the closure.
Darleen Reid, a spokeswoman for the USPS, said that although the feedback is welcomed by the agency, it may be premature. She emphasized that the closures have not been finalized and each and every location in the country was selected with a set of criteria.
The post offices had to be within 5 miles of another post office or USPS service location, such as a mobile service station, have adequate foot traffic and have an earned work hours ratio of more then two hours.
“If a post office is open for 10 hours and there are only five customers, they are earning the same as two hours,” Reid explained.
She could not give exact information on each of the Queens branches, but said that nationally foot traffic is down 30 percent to 40 percent along with declining revenues. Reid said customers in those areas will still have access to the U.S. Post Office’s services, such as stamp purchases and package drop-off locations at various stores.
Yet Steven Beard of the Long Island City Alliance said wait times at the post office, at 21-17 Broadway, are already an hour long and closing the Grand office would make the situation worse.
City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton), who represents the areas where three of the targeted post offices are located, said his constituents, particularly the ones living on the peninsula, would face a devastating loss in their quality of life.
“When they close the two post offices, you have one open for a community of 105,000 people. I don’t know how they can move that much mail,” he said.
The councilman demanded that the USPS give him and the community more specific data on how those offices are faring so the agency could come up with better solutions that would not involve closures.
“We are generally about the business of saving money, but we prefer cutting the fat, not the muscle,” he said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.