USPS May Close Chelsea Post Office

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The postal service announcement that it is considering closing the Chelsea branch comes as a shock to local residents By Megan Bungeroth & Sophia Rosenbaum Many local residents and elected officials were blindsided by a recent and quiet announcement from the United State Postal Service (USPS) that it intends to sell the Old Chelsea Post Office, at 217 West 18th Street, and move their operations to a yet-to-be-determined smaller location. While the USPS informed their union last year of the intent to sell off the historic building, elected officials say that the community was not informed until a letter dated January 11, 2013 was posted in the Old Chelsea Station. The letter was addressed to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreations and Historic Preservation, letting the agency know of the building's impending sale. The concerned group of officials, which includes Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Brad Hoylman, and Assembly Members Richard Gottfried and Deborah Glick, sent a joint letter to Postmaster General Pat Donahue, imploring the USPS to reconsider the sale and find other ways to repurpose the parts of the building that the postal service no longer utilizes, rather than move to a smaller location and potentially leave the immediate Chelsea neighborhood without a post office, with little opportunity for public input on the decision. "We are extremely concerned by the lack of public outreach and transparency with which the USPS has operated regarding the proposed sale of the facility," said the officials in a joint statement. "After considerable back-and-forth between elected officials and USPS, and very understandable outrage and confusion among community members, we have successfully obtained an agreement from USPS to hold a public meeting on April 11th." The community meeting will be held on Thursday, April 11th at the Fulton Center Auditorium, at 119 9th Avenue. The meeting is being organized by Manhattan Community Board 4, working with USPS, to directly inform Chelsea residents about the proposed plans for the Old Chelsea Post Office. The public comment period, however, only lasts until April 26th, so anyone with an interest in the issue is encouraged to attend the meeting to make sure their voice is heard. Meanwhile, many Chelsea residents aren't even aware that their local post office may shutter its doors. We asked several residents heading to the post office last Saturday what they think about the potential closing. Ivana Rupcic, 33, lives on 7th Avenue; goes to the Post Office about once a week, usually to send packages internationally and get stamps. "I would feel sad [if this location closed]. This morning, I was just gloating how we have so many mailing options so close to us. It's on the subway line so it's easy to pop out and stop in." Jeb Bernstein, 50, lives on 23rd Street and 8th Avenue; comes every Saturday and has a P.O. Box. "It'd be a pain in my ass if they closed this location. Since everyone is doing their business online, there's not as much use for post officers. I understand why this could be closed." Ian McClatchey, 34, has lived on 30th Street for 13 years; comes once a week and also has a P.O. Box. "There's a lot of potential, but it's just so poorly run that it's kind of a lost cause. They give you the wrong tracking numbers. They lose mail, they don't deliver mail. They have no interest in helping you. I hope they get a good price for it. It's a good piece of real estate." Missy Adams, lives on 9th Avenue and 20th Street; visits about three times a month. "I think it's horrible [to consider closing this location] because the community depends on the post office. It's a historical post office. They're selling off everything in this neighborhood. This is an institution in the neighborhood. We're not here to serve Google."

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