Pols save College Point postal facility from ax, for now

Post office workers Chandrak Desai and Efrain Dutan rally against closing the College Point mail sorting facility, which recently won a reprieve from Congress. Photo by Rebecca Henely
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Legislators eager to keep Queens mail in Queens have received at least a temporary reprieve.

State Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced Tuesday that she and 14 other senators had reached an agreement with the U.S. Postal Service to suspend closures of USPS facilities for five months, giving Congress more time to reform the postal system.

“In New York, more than 1,000 jobs, 100 post offices and 7 Area Mail Processing centers will continue serving their communities while Congress works on reforming the postal service to ensure its survival,” Gillibrand said in a statement.

The news came less than a week after legislators from around the borough and dozens of post office workers held a protest Friday against the proposed closure of the U.S. Postal Service sorting facility at 20th Avenue and the Whitestone Expressway service road in College Point.

“We welcome this delay by the Postal Service,” U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) sain in a statement. “In the meantime, we will continue to keep up the fight to save this important facility.

A USPS proposal had called for transferring the College Point operations to the sorting facility in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone), who organized the Friday rally, said the proposal to close the plant, which she estimated could put more than 1,000 people out of work, was based on a feasibility study that no legislators have seen.

A spokeswoman from USPS previously told TimesLedger Newspapers that 700 USPS workers would be relocated to other jobs and the layoffs would save the office nearly $31 million.

“I understand the Postal Service has a bottom line, but balancing its books on the backs of Queens’ and Bronx families is not the answer,” U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) said after the delay was announced.

Many legislators from around the borough were present at the rally and 24 also signed a letter to U.S. Post Master General Patrick Donahoe, saying closing the post office would have an adverse affect on delivering mail to the borough.

The letter mentioned that the change in sorting facilities would add an extra 26 miles round-trip to pick up mail in Brooklyn and would have an effect on seniors who get medication through the mail.

“This would be a tremendous loss to this borough,” said state Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans). “It is not fair.”

The USPS spokeswoman said first-class mail across the country will be delivered over two to three days instead of one as a cost-cutting measure if approved by the U.S. Congress, not because of consolidation.

Tony Paolillo, president of the Flushing Letter Carriers union, said USPS’s financial problem is a manufactured crisis due to a 2006 mandate to pre-fund a new hire’s benefits into a lump sum. He said these changes will not allow USPS to remain competitive with private courier services like FedEx and UPS.

“Cutting and disrupting service is not the answer,” Paolillo said. “That’s just going to drive people away.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 7:13 pm, December 14, 2011
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