ASTORIA, NY – Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Michael Gianaris, State Assembly Member Aravella Simotas, and western Queens community leaders and residents today hailed the announcement by the United States Postal Service (USPS) that it is no longer considering closing the Grand Station Post Office, which is located at 45-08 30th Avenue in Astoria. This summer, the USPS revealed that it was studying the possibility of closing Grand Station and moving the services offered there to several other post offices. Residents of Astoria responded to the possible closure with an outpouring of support. All of the elected officials joined a letter opposing the closure (see below), and more than 1,000 residents signed petitions which Congresswoman Maloney delivered to the Postmaster. This week, the USPS informed Congresswoman Maloney that it was removing Grand Station from the list of postal facilities being studied for possible closure.
“For residents and businesses, Grand Station provides vital services,” Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said. “I thank the Postal Service for hearing our concerns and keeping this important community institution open for business. Above all, I’d like to thank the countless residents and business owners of Astoria who spoke out to save their post office. This is really a victory for them and the entire community.”
“As our neighborhood continues to grow, we cannot afford to lose important services such as those provided by the Grand Station post office. I am thrilled we were able to save this community resource, particularly for our seniors who spent their lives making our neighborhood as great as it is today,” said State Senator Michael Gianaris.
“This news comes as a great relief to the many seniors, people with disabilities and working men and women who rely on Grand Station for essential services. I am proud to have stood with my colleagues in government and a united community in this effort to preserve a vital neighborhood resource, and I thank the Post Office for recognizing and meeting the needs of western Queens residents,” said Assembly Member Aravella Simotas.
City Council Member Peter F. Vallone, Jr., who was chairing a Council Committee meeting at the time of the rally, said in a written statement, “Our residents and elected officials sent a strong message to keep this post office open and the Postal Service listened. I commend the Postal Service and the work of my colleagues for allowing this community resource to remain open.”
Peter F. Vallone, Sr., Executive Director of the Astoria Civic Association and a former Speaker of the New York City Council who represented Astoria on the Council for many years, said in a written statement, “The Astoria neighborhood and the membership of the Astoria Civic Association are very grateful to Congresswoman Maloney for leading the fight to save the Grand Station post office The high concentration of seniors who live near Grand Station and the lack of reasonable alternatives for them made it critical to keep this post office open, and I am very pleased that the Postal Service recognized that.”
Joining the elected officials at the rally were several leaders of the Astoria community, including Costa Constantinides, Executive Vice President of the Long Island City Alliance and a Member of the Board of Directors of the United Community Civic Association. “We are grateful for the leadership of our Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and to our other elected officials for fighting to keep the Grand Station post office open. Our community needs to keep our critical infrastructure as we continue to grow. Together as a community we spoke in one voice to stand up for our post office, and we all won."
Set forth below is the joint letter sent by the elected officials in August 2011:
Dear Mr. Donahoe:
We write to you as elected officials representing constituents using the Grand Station Post Office located at 4508 30th Ave Ste A Astoria, NY 11103 It is our understanding that the United States Postal Service (USPS) will begin a study for potential consolidation (closing) of Grand Station. Closing this facility would severely burden residents living in the area who rely on it for their daily needs.
Grand Station serves residents of a densely populated community with many senior citizens and immigrants. Consequently, Grand Station is a very busy, crowded station. Closing a well-used facility in a dense urban community would lead to overcrowding at already burdened neighboring facilities and poor service for local residents. Indeed, one of the most common complaints we hear from local residents is that lines are often long at this post office.
Unlike in most parts of the country, a significant number of residents of this community n do not have cars and most walk to their local post office. We believe that it would likely add at least a half an hour to a trip to a post office for many local residents. In making your decision, we hope that you will look at the availability of mass transit options (or lack thereof) to bring people to the next closest facility, the method by which most people reach this post office (e.g. on foot, by bus, by car) and the amount of time it would take a senior to walk to the nearest facility. Simply measuring a distance on a map tells you very little about the ease or difficulty of reaching the destination.
We have heard the suggestion that many postal services can be done by computer. The population around Grand Station includes large numbers of senior citizens who do not have computers and therefore do not use email or pay bills online.
USPS cannot assume that 100% of the Grand Station business would simply transfer to a neighboring location. While the post office may be the only mail service provider in some communities, in an urban area like Astoria, the post office has many competitors who will be eager to absorb the business. Packages can be sent by UPS, federal express, DHL and a wealth of other competitors, some of which have storefronts or boxes in this area. Indeed, we note that there is a federal express box on the sidewalk in front of Grand Station. Further, every bank offers money orders, which would cut into the post office's postal order business. There are also several providers of mailbox services in this community. Accordingly, the U.S. Postal Service cannot have a realistic picture of the impact of closing a postal station without conducting a cost/benefit analysis.
We hope that you will look at the realities of this neighborhood, the nature of Grand Station's customer base and the long distance people will have to travel by foot to reach a different post office. For all of the foregoing reasons, we urge you to keep Grand Station open. We would like to meet with you, or the District Manager of the Triboro District, Frank Calabrese, to discuss these concerns further. Additionally, we hope that you will hold a public hearing to allow our constituents to express their views to you.
Congresswoman Maloney has now led successful efforts to prevent the closure of three post offices in New York’s 14th Congressional District that had been placed on a list of USPS facilities to be considered for closure, Grand Station in Astoria, and Pitt Station and Cherokee Station, both in Manhattan. Rallying local residents to express their support for those local postal facilities and to respond vigorously to USPS surveys of customer needs, Congresswoman Maloney helped avert the closure of all three post offices.