Scrap night hearing to save Bronx GPO

Maybe the letter got lost in the mail.

When a daytime hearing over possible sale of the Bronx General Post Office produced a barebones public turnout, Community Board 4 asked for an evening hearing with the Postal Service instead.

But officials at the cash-strapped agency have apparently snubbed CB4’s request, said district manager Jose Rodriguez.

“We’re disheartened by the fact they neglected to reach out to us,” said Rodriguez, who sent a letter to postal officials two weeks after the Feb. 6 hearing.

Neighbors had a month to voice concerns about the sale of the landmark post office, mailing letters to officials handling the deal.

But that option wasn’t well publicized since neighbors didn’t attend the 10 a.m. hearing, when most folks were at work.

“That’s not having proper respect for the community,” charged Rodriguez, noting the agency should have had a better public relations strategy. “Folks are more receptive to having that kind of conversation than the route they took.”

Responding to the board’s written request for an evening hearing, a USPS spokeswoman insisted “a response to the board was sent and received.”

“Maybe it got lost in the mail,” responded Rodriquez, with a laugh.

The lack of transparency between postal officials and the community has several folks speculating a buyer could already be waiting in the wings.

At the February hearing, postal officials cried poverty in their decision to find a buyer for the prominent post office at E. 149th Street and Grand Concourse in Melrose. Built in the 1930s, the building is listed on the National Register for Historic Sites.

The lobby houses Walt Whitman-inspired murals painted by Ben Shahn and Bernarda Bryson in the 1930s, priceless works that have worried preservationists over whether they will remain intact. Only the landmark-protected exterior must remain intact.

At one point the massive building served as the borough’s mail distribution center, until the operation moved to Manhattan.

These days only 10% of the building is utilized for day-to-day use, said postals officials.

They promised to talk with any new landlord over leasing the lobby to keep its retail front open, but NYU Professor Stephen Hutkins, who’s followed the agency’s national selling trend, doesn’t buy it.

“That’s usually a temporary move,” said Hutkins, arguing the new landlord typically rents out space to the agency for about a year “to keep the public happy and to give the new owner time to get his ducks in order.”

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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