Pol Hopes Survey Will Help Neighborhood Avoid Post Office Closures

By Jeanmarie Evelly on June 21, 2012 11:37am 

Bronx residents who use the Van Cott Post Office, on Decatur Avenue, were surveyed by local State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, who conducted the questionnaire to prove his district needs its mail locations.
Bronx residents who use the Van Cott Post Office, on Decatur Avenue, were surveyed by local State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, who conducted the questionnaire to prove his district needs its mail locations.
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DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

NORWOOD — With two post offices on the copping block, state Sen. Gustavo Rivera has launched a survey he hopes will prove to the United States Postal Service just how much his constituents need their mail locations.

Rivera mailed 60,590 surveys to residents in his district, which includes Bedford Park, Norwood, Kingsbridge Heights and Fordham, asking how often they use their local post offices, and what impact it would have on their lives if those locations were to close.

Two post office locations in Rivera's district — the Botanical Gardens Post Office, on Webster Avenue, and the Van Cott Post Office on Decatur Avenue — were considered for closure by the USPS an attempt by the agency to grapple with huge budget losses. The post offices were put on a potential closure list in 2011, along with 17 others in the Bronx and thousands across the country.

Those on the list got a reprieve last month after the USPS announced it will try to deal with its financial woes by scaling back hours and modifying services at some selected rural post offices, in leiu of actually closing any locations for the next two years as the strategy is rolled out.

Rivera released his survey results earlier this month — after sending them to the USPS — in the hopes that it would insure that  the two locations in his district would stay open indefinitely.

"While we are not out of the woods yet, I am confident that the post office will not close branches that would so disproportionately impact one community in the Bronx," Rivera said.

"The results of the survey of residents of the Bedford Park and Norwood area were very clear: closing the Van Cott and Botanical Gardens post offices would be an extreme hardship, especially for the elderly and disabled who live in the area," he said.

More than 1,000 people completed the survey. Of those who responded, and those who indicated they use the Botanical Garden or Van Cott locations as their primary post offices, nearly 40 percent said they go to the post office at least once a week, and 21 percent said they visited daily.

More than half said they would not have the means to travel to a more distant post office if their nearest location were to close.

"I use it all the time," said Olga Polanco, 50, who lives on the Grand Concourse and says she goes to the Van Cott Post Office for money orders to pay her bills, and to mail packages to family members who are scattered around the country.

"And all the stores are here," she said, gesturing to a busy stretch of shops on nearby East 204th Street. "You can stop in when you're on your way, it's so convenient."

Connie Chirichello, a spokeswoman for USPS in New York, said the agency takes the opinions of residents into account when deciding to close or restructure its locations.

"Public input is huge," she said.

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