Posted on 19 October 2009.
Janice Houston finds Crotona Park Post Office convenient and fast. Photo By Mustafa Mehdi Vural
Almost every week in good weather, Barbara Harris leaves her Bronx apartment to walk one block to her local post office on Boston Road in Crotona Park East in the Bronx to send presents to one of her 21 grand children living in Texas and Florida.
The trip may soon become impossible for the 59-year-old grandmother. The Crotona Park Station Post Office is on the list of U.S. Post Offices slated for closure.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Postal Service announced it would be forced to shutter 677 local post offices around the country, including 53 in the city, due to last year´s record $7 billion loss in revenue. A recent revised list slated 371 to close, including 16 in the city. Seven in the Bronx are included on both lists, including the station in Crotona.
“It is going to be tragic for me,” said Harris, clutching her shopping cart handle for support. “I cannot go to another one. I cannot get around easily.”
“A lot of people do not drive and they need this place where it is. It is not fair,” said Daman Brown, a 41-year-old traffic agent at the New York Police Department, placing his mail in a mail box before rushing away.
One customer has used this post office for nearly 50 years.
“I got here in 1960 and the post office was where it is today,” said Taylor Carton, a 71-year-old retired resident, waiting in line to send his mail.
Crotona Park Post Office is located at a busy hub where Boston Road and Southern Boulevard intersect East 174th Street.
Others wondered how local businesses might be affected if the post office closed its doors. “Possibly some people will lose their jobs,” said Patrick Onapie, a 47-year-old broker and notary, rushing from the post office to his office across the street. “The post office is the life blood of businessmen around this area.”
The closure of the Crotona Park Post Office would leave the vast Boston Road north-south corridor from East 167th Street to Bronx Park South without a postal outlet.
“I think that since it is still open, I have not heard any complaints,” said John Dudley, District Manager of Bronx Community Board Three. That will likely change once it is locked.
Elected officials of the Bronx, including Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Congressmen Joseph Crowley and Eliot Engel asked the U.S. Postal Service by letter to reconsider closing all seven, which amounts to 17 percent of all the postal stations in the Bronx.
Along with Crotona Park, the other branches on the list are Botanical, Clason Point, Hillside, Melcourt, Oak Point, and Van Nest post offices.
Six of the proposed locations are one mile and a half or more away from the nearest station.
Closing post offices is not the only solution to the loss of mail volume caused by the recession and changes in consumer on-line use.
John Potter, the 72nd Postmaster General of the 234-year-old US Postal Service, already cut $6 billion in expenses and reduced the postal service workforce by 40,000 positions. But he still predicts $5 billion per year for the foreseeable future.
“There are critics of the post office who contend that we should simply shut it down,” said Richard R. John, a professor at the Graduate School of Journalism in Columbia University. “I think there is a vital role for the post office and I do not believe that law makers are going to permit the post office to lose the privileges that keep this hybrid government institution.”