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John Street Post Office Remains Closed Indefinitely Following Sandy

By Irene Plagianos | December 4, 2012 9:41am

LOWER MANHATTAN — Ginelle Jenkins lugged a package over to the post office on John Street Monday afternoon, hoping to see the office, shuttered in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, finally open for business.

Instead, Jenkins found that the 114 John St. location remains closed because of extensive flood damage, and her only option was a postal truck with an open window set up outside the building.

The truck, however, was only selling stamps for cash — in packs of 20 or single international stamps — and wasn’t accepting any packages, much to the dismay of Jenkins and other frustrated residents.

“It’s just really annoying,” said Jenkins, a Pearl Street resident who was trying to return a heavy box of makeup and facial creams she’d bought online. “We just want things to start working again down here.”

Signs direct customers to 90 Church St., a post office near the World Trade Center, about half a mile away.

While the walk doesn't take long, it’s not easy for those carrying heavy packages, residents said.

Darlene Reid, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service, said there's still much work to be done at the John Street location, and she did not anticipate a reopening in December.

"It's not going to be done quickly," Reid said. "The safety of our employees and customers is what's most important."

Another nearby post office is open at 1 Hanover St., but it remains without phone or Internet service, which means customers need to pay in cash and can't use the self-service machines, causing longer lines.

Paul Garel, the postal worker manning the window of the John Street truck — which has been stationed outside of the closed post office since last Thursday — said he’s gotten used to fielding complaints from disgruntled locals over the past couple of days.

“We understand that it's frustrating,” Garel said. “We’re here to help out as much as we can for now.”

The 3,000-square-foot John Street post office, dubbed the Peck Slip Retail Unit, just opened in June.

It was relocated from 1 Peck Slip, three blocks to the north, which housed a post office for the past 60 years.

The former post office site will be converted to a new elementary school for Lower Manhattan, slated to open in 2015.

At the John Street mobile post office truck, Garel said he's hoping to add some small conveniences, like selling rolls of 100 stamps — a request from a few local customers — instead of just the 20 pack.

He did not, however, have an answer for another question he'd heard sporadically throughout the day: "Where's there a UPS store?"