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Mail delivery still on hold in Springfield Gardens

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Nearly four months after the U.S. Postal Service suspended delivery to a block on 119th Avenue in Springfield Gardens because a resident's dog attacked several letter carriers, the city is pushing to have the tenant evicted.

Rhonda Hargrave, a retired teacher, rents her home at 168-22 119th Ave. from the New York City Housing Authority and may be evicted because she has not gotten rid of her dogs, which neighbors say have terrorized the block.

Residents of housing authority homes or developments are prohibited from owning dogs, said Housing Authority spokesman Howard Marder. But he said the agency had tried numerous approaches to resolve the situation before deciding to pursue eviction.

"Eviction may not be the final answer," Marder said. "We all know how long the eviction process takes in New York City," he said, indicating the process could last more than a year.

Hargrave made her first appearance in Housing Court in Manhattan last Monday, and is due back in court on March 9. Marder said an independent arbiter would make the final decision on Hargrave's eviction case.

Jovoda Cooper, a community affairs officer with the 113th Precinct, said Hargrave has gotten rid of the two dogs responsible for the attacks, but the post office will not resume delivering mail until all of the dogs are gone.

She said the post office is considering erecting a temporary mailbox at the end of the block where mail for the 30 homes on the block would be delivered.

Thomas Daniels, customer services coordinator for the Jamaica postmaster, said the post office is not ready to commit to this option.

"Depending on what happens with this court case, we will determine what the next step will be," said Daniels. He said they will consider other options, such as a temporary mailbox if the issue is not settled within the next few weeks.

Delivery to homes on 119th Avenue between Marsden Avenue and Ring Place was halted after two of Hargrave's four dogs bit letter carrier James Grosso and then attacked his replacement the following day.

Officers from the Center for Animal Care and Control had visited the block several times, but were unable to remove the dogs from the block since they were confined to the home rather than running loose on the streets as previously was the case.

At a community meeting several weeks ago, Hargrave told residents and representatives from both the post office and the Housing Authority that she had removed all the dogs. Daniels said the post office announced it would resume mail delivery, but community members shouted out that Hargrave was lying and some of the dogs were still on the block.

The post office then said it could not yet resume mail delivery.

"She obviously has not been telling us the truth," said Marder.

For the past few months, residents of the block have had to pick up their mail by going to the Rochdale Village Post Office and asking the clerks for what has become known as the "dog mail" file.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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