The Bronx General Post Office is a step closer to the history books.
The massive Melrose landmark has been officially put on the market, days after officials with the United States Postal Service closed the month-long comment period that began Feb. 6, considered by many to be a perfunctory move to comply with federal regulations.
But a formal appeal from city and federal lawmakers is underway, bent on blocking the sale of the iconic post office.
“We’re going to appeal, it’s a wrong decision,” objected John DeSio, spokesman for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who received a March 14 letter from USPS explaining the sale.
Notices were plastered onto the lobby doors of the GPO, explaining the public has another 30 days to sound off on the decision, a second or perhaps first for many given a barely publicized public hearing where community input was virtually missing.
“Trying to figure out the logic of the post office will drive you crazy,” said Chuck Zlatkin with the postal union, labeling the hearing as “secret.”
“They do this traditionally to sneak this through by doing the bare minimum,” said Zlatkin. “What would stop this was an outpouring of people.”
Congressman Jose Serrano was equally baffled by scant word of the public input forum, where only elected officials and postal unions spoke on the community’s behalf.
In a letter written to Postmaster General Patrick Donahue, Serrano blasted postal officials for fast tracking a decision to put the building on the market even as there were little to no concrete plans in finding an alternative post office for neighbors – “Other than a vague promise that there will be a new postal location opened in the neighborhood,” read Serrano’s letter.
What’s at stake
Much of the worry stems from the lack of a nearby post office, particularly for the elderly who rely on the service for its retail end.
But preservationists are concerned about the fate of 13 Depression-era murals authored by Ben Shahn and partner Bernarda Bryson, unprotected from legal preservation.
The latest sale is part of a years-long trend from USPS to fix the troubled agency’s finances, which showed it was over $15 billion in the red last year.
But Zlatkin considers the cry for poverty a “manufactured crisis” crafted by federal policy that forces the agency to shift profits to its benefit coffers for future employees. He’s hoping electeds pressure the post office to renege on the sale.
Anyone looking to appeal the decision must write to: United States Postal Service, Vice President Facilities, 2 Congress St, Room 8, Facilities Implementation, Milford MA 01757.
David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383