Van Nest considers options in postal closure

Van Nest residents are looking for innovative ways to deal with the closure of their post office.

One plan being put forth by the community would have a Contract Postal Unit, known as a CPU, located in a local business in Van Nest or lower Morris Park.

Run by an independent vendor, the CPU would be a kiosk that could sell stamps, provide overnight shipping envelopes, weigh packages and calculate postage for businesspeople and residents alike, said Morris Park Alliance president Bobby Ruggiero.

He is now in talks with Cross County Federal Savings Bank to see if a CPU in the new bank is feasible, he said.

“They could take a teller’s window, put the United State Postal Service logo on it, and then train a teller that would have the additional responsibility of selling stamps, and conducting some of the other functions found in a post office,” Ruggiero said. “There would be drop boxes located outside of the branch for the finished product. Whatever remuneration that would be involved would be worked out between the teller and the bank.”

The closest example of a CPU that functions in this fashion was in Plattsburgh, New York, Ruggiero said, making the possibility of one for Van Nest dim.

At Ruggerio’s request, and community activist Joe Bombace, Senator Jeff Klein’s office is looking into all possibilities in terms of providing alternate forms of postal service to the shortchanged area.

“I believe the federal government did a great disservice to Van Nest,” Klein said. “There are a lot of seniors and people who do not drive in this community and we are looking at every available option to make sure that these residents have access to the services that were provided by the post office.”

A mobile postal truck will be parked in front of the shuttered Van Nest Post Office until the first week in August, but then the community is on its own, Bombace said.

“The CPU could be located in a bank, supermarket, or other business, and could provide an opportunity for a local entrepreneur,” Bombace said.

However, Bombace was not optimistic about the idea’s chances.

“It looks we are going to be on our own and kicked to the curb with the closure of this post office,” Bombace said, “That especially means grandma and grandpa senior citizen.”

On the bright side, Cross County Federal Savings Bank, located at 791 Morris Park Avenue, has contributed to the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance’s first fundraiser, and has donated money for cameras in Van Nest Park, Ruggiero said.

Ruggiero lobbied to bring the bank to the undeserved Van Nest community, which had not had a bank in over a decade.

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