Potential post office closures could hit the South, West sides hard

Potential post office closures could hit the South, West sides hard

South and West side residents may well see a raft of U.S. Postal Service facilities in their neighborhoods shuttered. Of the 11 stations in Chicago the post service is currently studying for possible closure, 10 are located either south and west; the remaining outlet that could be closed is in the Loop.

South Side post offices now on the chopping block include the Ashburn Post Office at 3639 W. 79th St.; the Englewood branch at 611 W. 63rd St.; Finance Station U on the campus of the University of Chicago; the Ogden Park Post Office, 6559 S. Ashland Ave.; Otis Collins branch at 2302 S. Pulaski Road; and the Chinatown Postal Store at 2345 S. Wentworth Ave.

Facilities serving West Side communities that could be closed include the Mary Henry Post Office, 4222 W. Madison Ave.; Nancy Jefferson at 116 S. Western Ave.; the Robert Leflore branch at 5001 W. Division St.; and the Milton Brunson Station at 324 S. Laramie Ave.

In their place, should all 11 of the Chicago facilities close, the postal service has floated as a replacement what it calls "Village Post Offices," offering retail services inside of existing businesses and through an expanded website. The agency says customers simply aren't patronizing its traditional stores like they once did.

“Today, more than 35 percent of the Postal Service’s retail revenue comes from expanded access locations such as grocery stores, drug stores, office supply stores, retail chains, self-service kiosks, ATMs and usps.com, open 24/7,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in late July. “Our customer’s habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business.”

Nationwide, 3,700 postal service outlets could be closed cross the country. And that potential restructuring comes as the agency moves toward cutting delivery to five days per week, ending to-your-door-mail delivery on Saturdays. Despite moving billions of pieces of mail each month, the agency is losing money and facing a default. It faced a net loss of $3.1 billion in the third quarter of this year.

For additional background about the postal service's financial struggles, check this story from Bloomberg News.

But the talk of cuts are getting a cold reception from some neighborhood leaders in Chicago and from postal service unions.

Rickie P. Brown, head of the West Side Historical Society, said the potential closure of branches on the the West Side was tantamount to a "slap in the face."

He worried about losing face-to-face connection with the agency in his neighborhood and said seniors and people with disabilities will find using postal services in "convenience stores" anything but convenient. Watch:

Theresa Mah, a consultant with the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, echoed those thoughts, telling the Reporterthat the Chinatown branch serves as an accessible option for new immigrants, the neighborhood's elderly and people who don't use as much electronic forms of communication.

"People see it as part of the community," she said of the office on Wentworth. "They feel comfortable going there."

Congressman Danny Davis said on Saturday that some cuts are inevitable, but any closings must ultimately pass a fairness smell test. Take a look:

© Community Renewal Society 2011

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