Tempers Flare at Town Hall Discussion of USPS's Fate

Northeast Queens Residents Angry Over Postal Service's Decision to Close College Point Facility

More than 100 postal employees, several dozen area residents and a few local politicians turned out Friday night to discuss the United States Postal Service’s consolidation plan.

The current proposal recommends closing down all Queens mail processing and distribution centers and calls for the elimination of first-class overnight local delivery service, replacing it with a standard two to three-day delivery policy.

Both ideas have been met with harsh criticism.

“You are basically signing a death warrant for the entire postal service,” said state Sen. Tony Avella, D-Bayside.

Adding to the overall fury of last night’s meeting was the manner with which the Postal Service has handled the evaluation process for the elimination of the College Point facility.

“The period of time that you have given us to discuss the issue is far too short,” said Councilman Dan Halloran, R-Whitestone, as he addressed a panel of Postal Service Management employees.

Late last month, the postal service announced an aggressive consolidation plan that would close over 300 of its 500 nationwide processing centers.

On the proposed chopping block is a USPS facility located at 20th Avenue and the Van Wyck Expressway in College Point.

“I’m all for making the government more efficient. But I think it’s extraordinary that we’re standing here today discussing the closure of a Queens-wide facility without giving the various elected officials the proper opportunity to be here to comment on this,” Halloran said.

However, the management team of the United States Postal Service said that consolidation of its mail processing operation would save the organization billions of dollars a year, estimating a total cost savings of over $30 million annually just by closing the Queens facility.

Some attendees at last night’s meeting voiced skepticism over these figures.

“Are we going to be able to see the objective criteria that the USPS used to arrive at this conclusion?” Halloran asked.

Officials for the United States Postal Service were adement that they had few other alternatives.

"Ideally, we wouldn't have to do this, and it's not a decision that we're taking lightly. But something has to be done in order to save the United States Postal Service," said USPS district manager Frank Calabrese.

Pointing to an estimated 20 percent decrease in first-class mail handled by the postal service since 2006, Calabrese said that the postal service currently faces a massive nationwide infrastructure that is no longer financially sustainable.

"The amount of first class mail entering our system has dropped from around 98 billion pieces in 2006 to under 78 billion pieces today," Calabrese said.

According to another study published by the management of the United States Postal Service, overall mail volume has decreased nearly 42 percent since fiscal year 2001.

"We're trying to build a sustainable post office for the next 30 years," Calabrese said.

Nevertheless, an overwhelming majority of those who attended Friday's town hall were outraged over the management team's proposal to scale back its processing center infrastructure.

“It doesn’t make sense how they can honestly say that getting rid of all these facilities will not affect mail delivery service,” said Robert Yaccarino, president of the American Postal Workers Union, Local 2286

Calabrese insisted that streamlining the post office's mail processing operation would not affect mail delivery services.

"Our goal is to make this transition as seamless as possible for the customer," he said.

Though, Calabrese did acknowledge that before the consolidation plan could take effect, the U.S. postal service would have to alter the way it handled local delivery of first class mail, which would no longer provide next day delivery.

"They already call us snail mail! What will they call us now?" shouted one angry postal service employee.

The management team of the United States Postal Service announced on Friday that no final decision has been made.

Inviting suggestion from everyone in the Queens Community, Calabrese provided the following address:

Manager, Consumer & Industry Contact
Triboro District
1050 Forbell Street
Brooklyn NY 11256-9621

All comments must be posted marked by Dec. 19.

Phil Konigsberg December 05, 2011 at 05:36 PM
I have been attending public hearings for 20 years and never have seen one scheduled on a Friday evening - for many it is the Sabbath. Little effort was made to really seek public input since very short notice was given before the meeting. What will they call the new type of service (two-to-three day delivery)? It will clearly not be First Class. The USPS facility on the chopping block is actually located at 20th Avenue and the Whitestone Expressway Service Road.
s johnson December 08, 2011 at 04:55 PM
as one of the non-postal workers present at this town hall presentation and a concerned queens resident, it was clear to me that the usps presentation did not prove its case for the shutdown but in the alternative, the idea for closing this particular facility appeared a supreme planning blunder. it was also clear that the brooklyn facility which is the proposed location to handle both its own and queens mail routing, cannot handle the breadth of their service needs now and overflow is currently handled by the queens facility. how could it possibly process more mail when it is unable to handle its present load?


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