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Post office closing delayed

June 27th, 2012

With less than 72 hours to spare, the Algonquin Plaza post office that was scheduled to close this Friday has been given a one-month stay of execution.

The decision to close the popular post office had been scheduled despite repeated urgings by U.S. Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey, Town Supervisor Wayne Booth and other elected officials. More than three thousand signatures of postal patrons had been collected and presented to United States Postal Service supervisors.

Nothing seemed to dent the determination of USPS to close the South Plank Road office.

On Tuesday, Congressman Hinchey made a second direct attempt to delay closing of the South Plank Road post office with a letter to Joseph Lubrano, district manager of the USPS Westchester District office in White Plains.

“I am writing to reiterate my strong opposition to the impending closure of the postal facility located on South Plank Road in the Town of Newburgh, and I urge you to implement a 90-day extension of the current contract in order to conduct an independent review of the matter by the USPS,” Hinchey wrote in a letter dated Tuesday.

“I am quite concerned that the USPS is about to alienate many thousands of customers in the Town of Newburgh, one of the fastest growing communities in Orange County, which would ultimately result in lost revenue.”

Hinchey said that he understands the desire by the USPS to cut costs, but “the closure of the Newburgh contract postal facility would not generate significant savings.

“Rather, it would serve to further erode the USPS customer base and would result in the direct loss of substantial amounts of revenue, particularly as local residents decide not to renew their postal boxes at other locations. The community has clearly spoken out against the closure, and it is incomprehensible that the USPS would ignore the more than 3,000 residents of the Town of Newburgh who have signed a petition asking for this postal station to remain open.”

Despite repeated requests by Hinchey’s staff for a meeting between Lubrano and local officials, there “has been no response,” Hinchey said. Then, suddenly on Tuesday, came a possible break — an agreement for a 30-day reprieve.

Thirty days that allow time for face-to-face discussions among Postal Service, the postal contractor and Town of Newburgh officials.

Hinchey had asked for a 90-day contract extension during which an independent investigation could be conducted into the ramifications of curtailed mail service to this area. Thirty days are a start.

This wasn’t the first appeal by Congressman Hinchey.

On June 4 of this year, Hinchey penned a letter to Lubrano voicing his strong opposition to the planned closure.

“I am deeply concerned about the removal of postal services from this area of the Town of Newburgh, which will negatively affect local residents and business while also further eroding customer use of the USPS,” he said.

In his letter on June 4, Hinchey urged Lobrano to maintain postal services at or near this location, either through negotiating a mutually acceptable contract with the current operator or by opening a USPS branch in “this key zone.”

Hinchey stressed in the earlier correspondence that he has been hearing “steadily” from Town of Newburgh officials concerned about the decision to close the post office used by so many local residents. It will leave a fast-growing Town of Newburgh with just one local post office, that the Mid Hudson Regional Distribution Center at Governors Drive at Stewart Airport.

“Local officials and residents alike have contacted me to highlight that it will be very inconvenient to those who use the current facility on South Plank Road to drive on congested local roads to alternate locations at Governors Drive or the City of Newburgh.

“While USPS may consider the contract termination a means of trimming costs,” Hinchey wrote, “the fact is that this facility has been well used and profitable for the USPS, even under the expiring contract’s cost structure. The minimal savings that USPS would realize from terminating this contract would be more than offset by the loss of revenues generated at this facility precisely because of its central location and convenience to customers.”

By ALLAN GAUL
agaul@tcnewspapers.com

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