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Potential Post Office Closures Draw Criticism

Decreased customer service levels and lack of access to disabled, elderly among main concerns from Arlington residents.

Lower quality of service and decreased access for disabled and elderly residents are some of the causes for concern among local U.S. Postal Service customers, dozens of whom spoke Monday against the possible closure of the and post offices.

The two Arlington locations are on a list of 3,700 branches nationwide . They are two of Arlington's three post offices, as the list does not include the Postal Service's  in Arlington Center.

For Julie Vail, of Arlington Heights, taking away the post office would remove one of the most desirable things about her neighborhood: not having to own a car.

“When you start taking away amenities like the post office, it starts losing the same sense of community feeling and it loses some of the appeal,” Vail added.

Greater Boston Postmaster James Holland, whose jurisdiction includes Arlington, and other USPS officials came out to Town Hall on Monday to hear some of those concerns and answer questions about the possible closure.

Holland said the decision to close a post office is “something that we don’t take lightly.”

“I totally understand the love affair that our customers have with the post office,” Holland said. “But the reason why we’re here is the Postal Service is in financial trouble right now.”

Some other attendees of the echoed Vail’s statements. A few senior and disabled residents said they would have a hard time going to the Arlington Main Post Office. And for those who have cars, parking in Arlington Center can be a challenge.

“I often have to drive around the block about 12 times,” said a disabled Arlington Heights resident of going to the main post office.

Holland said no final decision has been made in terms of closing either branch. But some attendees said there is little to be done at this time.

“In my mind, I believe it doesn’t matter who says what tonight—it’s a done deal,” said Paul Kilduff, president of the Boston metro area American Postal Workers Union.

Kilduff said his main concern was that the two branches aren’t necessarily losing money. According to publicly available documents, each office has recently made profits of up to $300,000 per year.

“Why would you shut down businesses that makes money?” Kilduff said “His answer was that they don’t make enough money.”

Still, Holland pressed on that the decision to close the post office could be overturned. The study of whether the branches should be closed just entered a 60-day period when officials are gathering information from the local community about the impact closures would have on them.

During this 60-day period, residents are asked to drop off their comments at either location. Once the period is over, officials in Washington, D.C., will gather all the information and make a decision.

Karen L. Grossman October 05, 2011 at 03:32 PM
This article neglected to mention another point that the representative of the postal union made. There is presently mandatory advance funding of the retirement system for the postal service put into effect through the effort of the Republican party. This is a major financial burden on the system that will be resolved by a bill presently being considered that is likely to pass. Mr. Holland said the relief that this would offer will not make up for the decline in usage of the postal system in favor of other means such as the internet and alternatives to the postal service in coming years. However, despite this statement, Kilduff indicated that the likely passage of this bill should halt the closure of these post offices. Members of the audience felt that less desirable service, longer lines, and less accessibility will cost the postal system in the long run as customers seek more effective methods.

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