By Alex Robinson
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) called on the U.S. Postal Service to renovate the exterior of the long-neglected Benjamin S. Rosenthal Post Office on Main Street last week.
Meng wrote a letter to the manager of the USPS’s Triboro District, Frank Calprese, decrying the lack of attention the building’s facade has received in recent years.
“The paint is peeling. The steps are filthy and stained. Garbage litters the front. The doors are dull and tarnished,” she wrote. “My constituents and I believe that neglect of the post office is unacceptable. It is a symbol of pride for the Flushing community and needs to continuously meet our basic standards for such a building. These are not difficult issues to fix, but the longer they are neglected the more they detract from the beauty and elegance of the Flushing Main Street Post Office.”
Architect Dwight James Baum and his partner William W. Knowles designed the historic post office, which was built in the Colonial Revival style. The 41-65 Main St. building, which serves as the main postal hub for the community, was completed in 1934 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
The Flushing congresswoman felt compelled to act after several community leaders and residents voiced their dissatisfaction with the state of the building.
“The Flushing Post Office has stood as a symbol of pride for the community of Flushing for many decades,” said Vincent Tomeo, president of the Flushing-based Maple Avenue Civic Association. “My heart sinks whenever I see how this once-majestic building has decayed. It is imperative that the Postal Service quickly restore this facility, and I thank Congresswoman Meng for leading the charge on it.”
“This is totally unacceptable,” said Marilyn Bitterman, district manager of Community Board 7, which covers Flushing. “With a little help, this building, along with its surroundings, can and will be a building that we can all be proud since it is part of the National Register of Historic Places.”
Meng’s letter appears to have kicked the USPS into motion already. A USPS spokeswoman said the post office has already contacted a contractor to begin work on renovations as soon as next week.
“Presently, Flushing postal officials are collaborating with USPS Facility Services to employ a private contractor who will work within the required guidelines deserving of the Flushing Main Post Office given its historical designation,” the USPS spokeswoman said. “Postal officials anticipate work beginning next week in revitalizing the exterior of the building.”
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.