Rep. Tonko, Albany leaders gather in effort to save the Academy Station Post Office
Neighborhood groups and elected officials gathered outside an Albany post office they say they’re trying to save from closure on Friday.
Five Albany neighborhood associations have banded together, launching a “Save our Post Office” campaign aimed at keeping Academy Station open at its current Ontario Street location, where its lease expires at the end of the month. The facility had to vacate its long-time New Scotland Avenue home in August to make way for construction of a new apartment complex.
Hilary Papineau chairs the Helderberg Neighborhood Association says Albany has lost three post offices over the last 12 years, and closure of Academy Station will leave up to one-third of the city without a functional, local post office.
"Our goals today are very simple. We're trying to keep our post office in our community," said Papineau. "We really have three asks of the United States Postal Service. One, we need to continue operating Academy Station until a permanent location has been secured. We do acknowledge and appreciate that the Postal Service is making efforts to extend the lease. They have a continuity of operations plan, but it's not specific. We need a concrete commitment that they're going to keep this post office open until a long term post office is going to be in place. Number two, we need to ensure that the public knows that Academy Station is open to the public. To our knowledge, the only public communication that was made that this post office is open was to P.O. Box holders. That is unacceptable."
P.O. Boxes were moved to the Fort Orange station on Central Avenue while USPS scouted for another location.
Albany Postal Workers Union President Reverend Ibrahim Pedrinan agrees foot traffic is noticeably down at the new Academy Station, which he feels was opened too quietly.
"If you open this location, but direct everyone to Fort Orange, numbers trend abysmally here, and they say, well, no one uses the post office," Pedrinan said. "It's a manufactured crisis. It's like putting a stick in your bicycle wheel while you're biking, and then blaming the stick. So we want communication. We want commitment to keep good union jobs in this neighborhood by keeping a good post office in this neighborhood and to keep service strong."
Democratic Congressman Paul Tonko of the 20th district noted that he recently voted to advance the bipartisan Postal Service Reform Act to get the USPS on solid financial footing.
"I just want to point out that if you're going to use the rationale that volume is down at this post office site, then explain why when you go and Google-search this station, it indicates it's temporarily closed," said Tonko. "This sounds like a way to set up someone for defeat."
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, also a Democrat, says a letter of support to keep Academy Station open was sent to USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. She says it was signed by more than 30 elected officials who represent various parts of the city.
"They also want the post office to see that this is a beloved resource in our community," Sheehan said. "We need to keep Academy Station. We are willing to work with you, we want to be your partner, and I want to echo 'come and use this post office!'"
USPS spokesperson for Upstate New York Mark Lawrence tells WAMC in an email, "There are no plans to close or cease operations at the Post Office currently located at 363 Ontario Street at this time. Our goal is to remain at that location until a new Post Office is secured and fully operational. As soon as a feasible, potential site is located, we will notify the public and solicit their feedback. Rest assured the Postal Service has every intention of keeping a Post Office in the vicinity of the current location."