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Sheepshead Bay Post Office still closed a year after fire

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The Bay Station Post Office in Sheepshead Bay on fire on Feb. 12, 2021.
Citizen

A Sheepshead Bay post office that shuttered after a major fire has still not reopened more than a year later, and locals say it’s been impacting mail delivery in a neighborhood with a high population of senior citizens.

The mail facility’s building, at the corner of Jerome Avenue and East 18th Street, was the site of a devastating inferno in February 2021. While luckily no one was hurt, and no mail was destroyed, the facility itself suffered massive damage and was forced to temporarily close its doors. PO Box holders and other users of the branch, officially deemed Bay Station, were instructed to access services at the Homecrest branch a few blocks away.

But the temporary closure has now lasted more than a year, and some residents speculate that it has led to diminished mail service in an area where many older residents still rely heavily on the postal service for communication.

“My friend mailed me a holiday card, we’re in the same ZIP code,” said Avenue Z resident Ed Greenspan. “And it took eight days.”

“I’m hearing from other people, the mail is horrendous,” Greenspan continued. “And what we can’t figure out is why the post office hasn’t opened. It’s been a year!”

The United States Postal Service told local City Councilmember Inna Vernikov in January that repairs were set to begin this winter, but in a letter to Brooklyn postmaster John Tortorice sent on Monday, she said she had not received an update in the past three months.

“My constituents in District 48 are in desperate need of a local post office,” Vernikov wrote. “The Bay Post Office provided a plethora of services beyond just posting mail. There is a dearth of these local services in our community with the post office out of commission.”

Vernikov said in her letter that the parcel people should offer “mobile services” at the site in the interim.

“As we await repairs to be completed, I believe it would be beneficial to the community to offer mobile post office services at the Bay Post Office site,” she said.

A spokesperson for the USPS said that while the organization has been able to restore “carrier operations” at Bay Station, the damage from the fire was such that retail operations continue to be untenable. Those with a PO Box are still being directed to pick up mail at the Homecrest office. The spokesperson did not say whether the postal service is planning to offer mobile services.

“The Postal Service remains committed to working with the landlord to make necessary repairs at the fire-damaged Bay Station facility,” said USPS spokesperson Xavier C. Hernandez. “We are in the process of getting Bay Station repaired and we look forward to returning as soon as it is possible, but to this point we cannot operate normally at that location.”

Hernandez said that the office’s long-term closure shouldn’t be impacting USPS’s ability to deliver mail in the area, even if some customers experience delays. He also said that repairs and maintenance are the responsibility not of the USPS, but of the building’s landlord. City records indicate that the building is owned by Waldorf Realty Co. Inc; a phone call to a number associated with that business was not returned.

Asked for a response, Vernikov argued that the USPS was simply shifting blame to the landlord to justify the slow progress.

“The Bay Post Office location has been out of use for over a year,” Vernikov said in an email. “That should have been sufficient time to repair the damages from the fire. Shifting blame onto circumstances and other parties is avoiding taking responsibility. At the very least, a mobile unit should be set up to provide immediate services to seniors and others who are not able to utilize alternate USPS locations.”

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