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Following years of concerns that the Kew Gardens Post Office would close, a Queens landlord and the federal government reached a tentative deal that is expected to allow the 60-year-old site to remain open, U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) said last week.
The U.S. Postal Service and Tulip Management, the landlord of the building at 83-30 Austin St.., came to an agreement last week that should extend the government’s lease that had been set to expire in July 2011. Residents had for years been worried Tulip Management would not renew the lease, shuttering the only post office in Kew Gardens upon which many residents, especially a number of elderly individuals, rely.
“This is a huge victory for Kew Gardens,” Weiner said. “No community should be forced to live without such a vital service, and I’m pleased that everyone in this process understood that.”
USPS spokeswoman Darleen Reid-DeMeo said Tuesday that there are ongoing verbal negotiations between the two parties and the Postal Service believes a lease agreement is “imminent.”
“We’re looking forward to continuing to provide postal service to the community from Austin Street,” Reid-DeMeo said.
In 2006, the USPS and Tulip Management signed a five-year lease that included three guaranteed years and an option to extend the lease an additional two years to 2011. After the option was picked up, residents heard no further news about negotiating a long-term lease until last week.
Kew Gardens Civic Association Executive Chairman Murray Berger said community activists had worked hard with Weiner and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to ensure their post office would remain at its Austin Street site.
“We started to apply pressure two years ago on Anthony Weiner and Chuck Schumer to get the government to buy the property and put an end to all the overhanging fear that every time the lease expired we didn’t know what would happen,” Berger said. “Because of the economic downfall, purchasing the property for the post office in the postal service’s desperate condition was out of the question.”
Instead, Weiner and Schumer wrote letters in March 2009 to the federal post master general, asking that he make sure the Kew Gardens Post Office remain open. If the Kew Gardens facility closed, customers would have to travel to Forest Hills or Briarwood to the nearest post office, a difficult feat for many of the elderly residents who routinely walk to the Kew Gardens spot, Berger said.
“We have a lot of old people who can’t walk to those places,” said Berger, who has lived in Kew Gardens for more than 50 years. “It’s in an ideal location because it’s surrounded by apartments. It’s got a big business in the passport division because people in Kew Gardens have a lot of ties overseas.”
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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