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Only three postal stations in danger

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On Friday, November 20, the United States Postal Service (USPS) released an updated list of postal stations and branches under consideration for closure, and only three Bronx stations and branches remain: Van Nest, Oak Point and Crotona Park. The Botanical, Clason Point, Hillside and Melcourt stations, on the list in September, will stay open.

Barbara Stronczer of the Bedford Park Mosholu Community Association, who gathered more than 700 petition signatures against the possible closure of the Botanical station, thinks USPS heard her neighbors protest. Community Board 7 district manager Fernando Tirado and Rose Hill Apartments manager Annelen Madigan testified against the possible closure of the Botanical station at public hearing on Wednesday, September 23. The Botanical station is on Webster Avenue.

“I’m delighted,” Stronczer said. “The [updated list] was a surprise. I had only heard that [the Botanical station] would be open until the end of year.”

The Botanical station is used by residents of Bedford Park, a dense and low-income neighborhood. There are senior centers and senior housing developments near the station. When the station was still on the list, Stronczer and Tirado argued that low-income seniors in Bedford Park travel to the station by foot.

If the Botanical station were to close, those seniors would need to use the already crowded Fordham station on E. 188th Street or the station on E. 204th Street, each a half-hour hike or a bus ride away from the heart of Bedford Park, Tirado. The neighborhood is hilly – hard for seniors and handicapped people to traverse, Madigan pointed out.

The USPS had suggested that Bedford park residents use the Internet to process mail. But the Internet is unaffordable for some Bedford Park residents and incomprehensible to many Bedford Park seniors, Tirado argued. Only two Rose Hill seniors are Internet users, Madigan said. Bedford Park residents visit the Botanical station to obtain no-surcharge money orders.

“I use the [Botanical station] every other day,” Stronczer said.

In September, Stronczer heard that the station would close in October. In October she asked at the station but the staff had no answer. Fordham University and the New York Botanical Garden also protested the possible closure.

“No news was good news,” Stronczer said. “I think our protest made a difference.”

Only 241 stations and branches remain on USPS’ list nationwide. It wants to close some because it reported a loss of $3.8 billion for fiscal year 2009. Its original list included 3,300 stations and branches nationwide.

The Van Nest station on Morris Park Avenue, the Oak Point station on E. 149th Street and the Crotona Park station on Boston Road are still in danger of being closed. USPS has announced no timeline for its final decisions.

Reach reporter Daniel Beekman at 718 742-3383 or dbeekman@cnglocal.com

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CNG: Community Newspaper Group