By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The U.S. Postal Service’s announcement Wednesday that it would stop delivering mail on Saturdays – except for packages and mail for post-office boxes – was just the latest salvo in a battle that has often spilled over to Brooklyn.
The service expects the Saturday mail cutback to begin the week of Aug. 5 and to save about $2 billion annually, said Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe.
"Our financial condition is urgent," Donahoe told a press conference.
The move does not impact individual post offices that are open on Saturday. A fairly large number of Brooklyn post offices are. The General Post Office on Cadman Plaza, the Fort Hamilton branch in Bay Ridge, the Williamsburg Branch on South 4th Street and the Midwood Branch on Coney Island Avenue are just a few.
Darlene Reid-De Meio, a spokesperson for the New York City office of the Postal Service, said the “heyday” of first-class mail was in 2002, when 102.4 billion pieces of mail were delivered nationwide. That figure dropped to 95.9 billion in 2007, 83.8 billion in 09 and 73.5 billion in 2011.
Steve Hutkins of the organization Save the Post Office said, “As for how people in the New York area will be affected: If you get a newspaper or magazine delivered in the mail, it will be older news by the time you get it. If you get Netflix, you won't have a movie to watch on Saturday night. If you do a lot of your business via the mail (like paying bills), you'll be inconvenienced.”
From time to time, the Postal Service has sought to close branches in Brooklyn, usually resulting in a protest campaign by local officials and civic leaders. Most of the time, these branches are “retail stations” within stores, not full-fledge post offices.
For example, in 2011, state Sen. Marty Golden led a petition and letter-writing campaign to save the Ovington branch in Bay Ridge, a campaign that proved successful. Later that year, the Brighton Beach branch was saved – for the second time in a row.
Yet another branch that was once threatened but survived is one within the Municipal Building in Downtown Brooklyn.
Chuck Zlatkin, legislative and political director of the New York Metro Area Postal Union, told the Eagle, “The Postal Service has a burden that no other government agency, no private corporation, has. Every year, by law, it must pay $5.5 billion to the Treasury Department.
“It’s almost as if it were hand-picked to fail, so it could then be privatized.”