Residents were excluded from process, say Serrano, Diaz
Elected officials are challenging the US Postal Service’s attempts to sell the historic post office building at the corner of 149th St. and the Grand Concourse.
In late December, the Post Office announced it was putting the landmark building up for sale, publicly announcing its decision with a flyer on the wall of the lobby. The flyer informed readers a public meeting would take place in the building on a Wednesday morning in February.
Few people showed up for the meeting.
In mid-March, Congressman José E. Serrano blasted the federal agency, sending a letter to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe asking that Bronxites have a chance to weigh in on the building’s fate. Serrano argued the Postal Service has not offered a plan to replace postal service for residents, and added that rare art works hanging in the lobby would not be sufficiently protected.
The building first opened in 1937, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Over the years, it has served the neighborhood as “a Post Office, a processing facility, and community meeting place,” Serrano wrote in his March 15 letter, characterizing the proposed sale as “fatally flawed.”
“Relevant stakeholders were provided with little to no notice about a public meeting, thus giving them inadequate opportunity to provide input,” Serrano wrote, pointing out that few were able to attend the weekday morning meeting. In addition, Serrano wrote, the Postal Service provided little public notice of a 30-day comment period, further limiting residents’ input.
“Other than a vague promise that there will be a new postal location opened in the neighborhood, there does not appear to have been any steps taken to open that new location,” he wrote, adding that “there appears to have been no discussion with the community of their needs in choosing a new location.”
Historic murals by artist Ben Shahn, that now hang in the building’s lobby, would be unprotected under the terms of the proposed sale, Serrano argued.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. similarly announced his opposition to the sale. In a letter to the Post Office’s chief real estate specialist, Joseph Mulvey, Diaz Jr. wrote that “The loss of this facility would mean that residents and business would have the added burden of traveling into Manhattan for certain services that should, by right, be available to them in the Bronx.”
Diaz wrote that posting the announcement in the lobby of the building “does not constitute this act as public notification,” and added “It further implies that community input is not a priority to the United States Postal Service.”