By Phil Corso
In the wake of a whirlwind of speculation over whether or not Bayside’s post office would shutter, U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) stood up and demanded answers from the U.S. Postal Service.
While the USPS said in a statement that rumors surrounding the Bayside post office’s closure were a simple “misunderstanding,” Ackerman said there were still intentions to move forward with a plan to move all operations to the nearby annex building by Lawrence Cemetery, at 41-29 216th St.
The congressman’s biggest issue, Ackerman said, was the USPS’s failure to solicit public input on the matter.
“I would like the USPS to explain why it does not see it necessary to provide a public comment period in which my constituents’ concerns will be considered, and why moving the post office to an undesirable location is a good move for the USPS and its customers,” Ackerman said.
According to Ackerman, current law requires that the USPS must provide notice of its intention to close or consolidate a post office at least 60 days before the proposed closure date. Ackerman said the USPS has not sought community input because closing one office and moving it to another does not constitute a closing or loss of service to the community.
“The proposed move is to a geographically isolated location, and is less accessible and convenient for my constituents and the Postal Service’s customers,” Ackerman said. “It is inconceivable that the USPS has asserted it can ignore these consumer protections because it does not consider this closing and moving of the Bayside post office to be a consolidation or closure under the law.”
The USPS said the proposal, which should save the agency money, would not go through until 2013 and that all jobs would be preserved. In a statement, a spokeswoman said the Bayside post office was part of a routine review of the USPS system around the country.
“We are continuously observing postal facilities. It’s a healthy review of our resources that will best incorporate them into long-term plans for effective and efficient retail service,” the statement said. “It is prudent for us to look for ways to improve efficiency by making better use of space, staffing and operating processes. A lot of things are on the chalkboard.”
Retired Bayside businessman Jack Oshier sounded off on the relocation, adding that moving all of the post office’s services to the nearby annex would be dangerous and require a lot of renovations in the area. According to Oshier, the USPS’s plans must include the repaving of the surrounding area.
“There are no sidewalks along the cemetery and the area has to be handicap accessible,” Oshier said. “A lot of things have to go together with this to make it work.”
If the Postal Service issues a final determination closing a post office, the community can submit a closing appeal to the Postal Regulatory Commission by visiting prc.gov.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.