Today’s news:

USPS to close Van Nest Post Office

The lower Morris Park and Van Nest communities are mobilizing to keep their post office.

A rally will take place outside of the Van Nest Post Office on Thursday, May 19.Unites States Postal Service spokeswoman Darlene Reid confirmed that the location will close by July 1.

Elected officials, members of the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance, and community leaders are expected to take part in the rally being led by Congressman Joseph Crowley, who believes residents and businesses in the community deserve better.

“Closing the Van Nest Post Office would deprive the community of the essential services residents and businesses have come to depend on, and that’s unacceptable,” Crowley said. “I share the community’s concerns and have been working tirelessly to persuade the United States Postal Service to keep the post office’s doors open.”

The post office was first identified as being underutilized in a USPS Station Branch and Optimization Study in 2009, Reid said. This study took into account retail sales, customer traffic, P.O. box usage, service standards, cost savings, parking, customer access, environmental impact, real estate values and the long-term needs of the USPS.

“Within the last 30 days we were given approval to close the station,” Reid stated.All of the employes at the branch have been notified, she said.

The USPS held a hearing at Fordham University in 2009 where the community offered testimony. Participating was Senator Jeff Klein, who stated that the community needed the post office because many did not have transportation to other USPS locations.

“As I have said before, it would be a mistake for the federal government to consider closing this post office,” Klein said “A majority of Van Nesters, a good portion of them seniors, do not own their own cars. For that reason, a local post office, for all the services it provides, is a valuable community asset.”

Community leader Joe Bombace was outraged that the USPS decided to close the Van Nest Post Office because he felt it would hamper efforts by residents and business groups to improve the area.

“We already lost a Catholic school, and now a few blocks away, we are losing a post office,” Bombace said. “In January 2010 we gathered 1,000 petitions signatures in just six hours to keep it open. This is going to be devastating to the lower Morris Park and Van Nest communities.”

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