By Lincoln Anderson
Feature article in The Villager
Residents of Co-op Village, backed up by a strong show of support from local politicians, rallied outside the Pitt Station post office on Clinton St. Sunday afternoon, demanding the U.S. Postal Service keep the branch open.
The rally was organized by Assembly-member Sheldon Silver and Congressmember Carolyn Maloney. Also joining the call for saving the branch were state Senator Dan Squadron and Councilmember-elect Margaret Chin.
“There’s no way we’re going to let this post office go quietly into that good night,” said Squadron, doing a very loose paraphrasing of Dylan Thomas. “We are going to fight and push to keep this post office open.”
“Do they think everyone uses e-mail and computers?” Chin asked incredulously. “We still write letters to our grandchildren, packages — we’re not going to let them change our lifestyle.”
The elected officials and others said they’d be surprised to learn that the branch loses money, since it has steady use and just three employees. If the branch were closed, a UPS or Mailboxes store would open there and collect all the revenue the Postal Service would be forgoing, they assured.
Silver, Maloney and Heshey Jacob, manager of two of Grand St.’s for co-op complexes, all stressed that they want to see the economic analysis that justifies closing the branch, but so far U.S.P.S. hasn’t provided it.
“It could really be a loss of money to the post office and a loss of community support,” Maloney said. “This is the heart of the community.”
Regarding what U.S.P.S. should do, Jacob said, “Why don’t you look at the ones [post office branches] that are not covering expenses?”
They’ve collected 1,400 petition signatures in support of keeping the Pitt Station open and Silver and Maloney have been in talks with the postmaster about what can be done.
The post office rents its space from Seward Park Co-op at below market rate, said Michael Tumminia, the co-op’s president. He added that the co-op is a NORC (naturally occurring retirement community), with a majority of senior residents who don’t want to have to walk to the even-busier post office at Allen St. and East Broadway.
“It’s very critical that these residents have access to postal services,” Tumminia said. “They’re not utilizing technology the way other residents do. …
The older residents use the post office to pay their maintenance and utility bills and they can’t walk three or four avenues to use another post office.”
Josephine Filomeno, 83, a lifelong Lower East Sider, was at the rally. She mainly uses the post office for letters and packages.
“I got people in Italy, family,” she said. “I got a double hip operation, and I’m an aged person.
“You can’t find a better area,” she said of the neighborhood. “It’s safe. You got nice representatives — they listen to your problems.”