Brooklyn post offices spared from chopping block

No Brooklyn post office will be closed in the near future as a result of efforts by the United States Postal Service (USPS) to balance its budget.

According to published reports, in 2009, as many as 40 post offices around the borough had initially been under consideration for possible closure in neighborhoods around the borough.

Among these was Bay Ridge’s Ovington station, on Fourth Avenue, which local residents and elected officials banded together to save.

Also reported to have been on the endangered list was the Red Hook station on Clinton Street, as well as one of the three Park Slope offices, which comprise a main station and two satellites.

By mid-summer, when USPS released a list of stations that would be fully reviewed, seven Brooklyn stations were still in danger. These included the Newkirk substation and the Farragut station, both in Flatbush, as well as Highlawn, on West 6th Street, and Sunset Park’s Sunset station.

USPS has been looking at consolidating stations and branches across the country because of its deteriorating financial situation, said Darleen Reid, a USPS spokesperson.

USPS reported a $3.8 billion loss at the end of its 2009 fiscal year.

While approximately 3,300 postal stations and branches nationwide were reviewed as part of the process, Reid told this paper that, as of mid-December, only two post offices in the “triboro” area – both in Queens — remain under consideration for closure, though, she cautioned, “The station and branch consolidation process is continuing. When we hear of a final decision we will notify the public immediately.”

The goal of the consolidation process, said Reid, is, “To operate more efficiently in order to continue to provide timely, trustworthy, reasonably priced mail service as we have for 234 years.”

The USPS’s financial situation, Reid stressed, reflects the country’s straitened economic circumstances. Specifically, she cited, “Fuel costs, declining mail volumes, and an increasingly turbulent economy” as factors contributing to the problem. Indeed, said Reid, USPS handed nine billion fewer pieces of mail in 2009, for a 4.5 percent decrease.

“It is against this stark reality that the Postal Service has a responsibility to improve efficiency,” Reid stressed, adding, “In order to remain economically viable, the Postal Service has made adjustments to its operations, staffing and facilities to match current mail volume to maintain the service performance the American public has come to expect.”

Besides undertaking the evaluation of local stations and branches, USPS has taken a number of other cost-cutting measures, said Reid.

These include freezing the salaries of officers and executives, reducing authorized staffing levels, consolidating mail processing operations, adjusting delivery routes to make them more efficient, adjusting post office hours to be more in keeping with customer usage, stopping construction of new postal facilities, and selling unused or under-utilized postal facilities.

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