The United States Postal Service has ruffled the feathers of community members who rallied to show their support for keeping the Van Nest Post Office opened.
The Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance, Van Nest Community Association, and Morris Park Business Alliance joined in a rally organized by Congressman Joseph Crowley on Thursday, May 19 in front of the Van Nest Post Office to protest its planned closure on August 12.
In a letter to the Postmaster General last year, Crowley spoke of the “long-standing snub” of Van Nest by institutions like banks, and asked that the postal service assess the distinctive needs of the neighborhood.
Crowley sees a community on the rise, especially since a new bank, the Cross County Federal Savings Bank, is set to open in June just a few doors down.
“Clearly, the USPS doesn’t see Van Nest the way we do,” Crowley told supporters. “I’m confident the community will continue to come together and revitalize Van Nest into the neighborhood we know it can and should be.”
His staff has logged hundreds of hours fighting the closure, Crowley said. There would be increased burden on employees and longer lines for consumers at other post offices because the USPS has promised no additional staff for the Parkchester, West Farms, Pelham Parkway, or Morris Park stations, he added.
Crowley was joined by Senator Jeff Klein, Councilman Joel Rivera, Councilman Jimmy Vacca, and Community Board 11 district manager Jeremy Warneke in calling on the USPS to reverse its course.
Making seniors walk half-a-mile to the nearest station in inclement weather was touched upon by Councilmen Rivera and Vacca in their remarks.
“The ripple effect of the closure of this branch is going to be tragic,” said Bernadette Ferrara of the VNNA. “Whatever happens, it is not going to be good.”
“We don’t have a bank yet, and now we are losing a post office, and our two schools closed,” said Zena Twyman, president of the Van Nest Community Association.
Business owners will not be affected much, but staff will have to travel further for basic postal services, said Bobby Ruggiero, president of the Morris Park Alliance.
The USPS attributed the closure to drastic decreased volume of mail nationwide, and said that based on the results of a study that was conducted in 2009, the postal station was recommended for consolidation.
“Given the extraordinary decline in mail volume, a decline of nearly 26 billion pieces this past year alone, we must take action to reduce the size of our retail and delivery network,” said William Schnaars, New York district manager.