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PO’d about the Hunts Point PO

Denise Hunte was one of over a dozen Hunts Point residents and postal workers who told USPS officials on Dec. 15 that closing the Manida St. PO branch would be disastrous for people who live on the peninsula.

Residents rage against proposed closing of Manida St. branch

Faced with the prospect of losing their post office, about 60 Hunts Point residents turned out for a public hearing at the Hunts Point Recreation Center on Manida St. to tell five US Postal Service officials dressed in suits they’re not going to take it anymore.

The Manida Street post office was built in 2001, ending a period in which 10474 was the country’s only zip code without a post office. Now it is one of 34 New York City post office branches—half of them in the Bronx–on the chopping block, as the U.S. Postal Service struggles with falling revenues, caused, says the USPS competition from email and private mail services.

Hunts Pointers and rank-and-file postal workers said “Bull.”

“I’m not ashamed to admit it, I’m not the rich and famous,” said Denise Hunte, who lives on Manida Street and has no Internet connection. “You want to say, ‘Oh, they’re a poor community. We can take it away from them.’ No!”

If the Hunts Point station is closed, the Postal Service says customers will go to the Boulevard branch East 167th Street and Southern Boulevard. Its official notice concerning the closing says it is “within a short radius.”

Speakers at the hearing said Boulevard  was in no way a convenient substitute. Hunte explained that she would be left no choice but to take two buses, the Bx19 and the Bx6, to get to the Boulevard Station, and even then she’s not sure the bus driver would let her on with a shopping cart of packages to mail.

“You have jobs,” Hunte told the Postal Service officials, to frantic applause from others seated in folding chairs on the Rec Center gym floor. “You go home; you take your suits and jackets off. We have to worry about what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

“Please,” she said, “this is a poor community, let the post office stay.”

An elderly audience member shouted at her, “Don’t beg!”

Josephine Infante, president of the Hunts Point Economic Development Corporation, remembered how hard she and others had fought to get the Manida Street station opened a decade ago, and presented the officials with a letter she said had been signed by representatives from all of the businesses in the Hunts Point Food Market, urging the officials to keep the local branch open.

“We’re all very angry,” Infante said. “Take this post office off your list.”

A postal employee, Chuck Zlatkin, noted after dozens had spoken, that no one from the Postal Service had taken notes or recorded or videotaped the session. At previous sessions he had attended, he said, there was always a note-taker recording the proceedings. Not in Hunts Point.

“There are 34, and Hunts Point is at the bottom,” he said. “You’re not even taking notes. This is the ultimate insult.”

No one from the USPS contingent responded.

Dragging a suitcase behind her after the hearing to her home a block away, 89-year-old Cybele Ross said, “I can’t live without a post office.”

Like others at the meeting, she soured at the thought of having to use two buses to travel to the Boulevard station to mail packages and collect mail from a box at the new location. And, like others, she was bitter at the idea that the Boulevard branch was comparable to the Hunts Point station.

“It’s a dump,” she said.

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