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Dorchester residents prepare to fight to keep post offices

Posted by Patrick Rosso  November 14, 2011 09:03 AM

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The US Post Office has been conducting reviews over the past few months of post offices across the country, with an eye to closing some of them to cut costs. Thirty-one offices are being reviewed in Greater Boston, but as the clock counts down, one Dorchester neighborhood is determined to keep its offices.

Two offices in Dorchester are currently under review by the USPS. One in Grove Hall on Warren Street and one in Upham's Corner on Columbia Road. Although there will be community meetings held for both, the last step before the potential closure, neighbors in Upham's Corner are putting their foot down.

“The attitude in the neighborhood is that this post office is extremely important,” said Nancy Conrad, a member of the Upham's Corner Improvement Association.

Community members and local organizations have been rallying around the retail office to show their support for a post office in their neighborhood.

“Not only is it an anchor in this community, but if it were to be closed it would just be another vacant building in the area,” said Max McCarthy, executive director of Upham's Corner Main Street.

“The merchants rely on the post office as a vital resource and it generates foot traffic,” added McCarthy.

To garner more community support, McCarthy has started an on-line petition to show the USPS that Upham's Corner doesn’t want to part with its office.

Although the petition is still light in signatures, many have commented that the post office is an important part of their life.

“I am an elderly person, one of over 50 persons living at an elderly/disabled housing project in the [Upham's Corner] neighborhood. This branch is essential to residents here like myself who are not as mobile as some. It would be very difficult for many of us to travel to another branch,” commented Nancy Moniz on the petition.

If the Uphma's Corner office were to be closed the next closest USPS location would on Adams Street in Fields Corner.

Although the location of the branch is a huge factor in its move, others in the community are concerned that the large immigrant population will suffer the most.

“This is a pedestrian based community and it is also a poor community, people need to be able to walk to the facility,” said Conrad.

Even though the neighborhood does have a large concentration of immigrants, the letter sent out by the USPS alerting residents to the potential closures and upcoming meetings were only in English.

To determine whether an office should be closed, the USPS has three criteria: that the office has made less than $600,000 in a year, it is within two miles of an alternative access site (a location that provides many of the same services a retail post office provides such as selling stamps and providing PO Boxes) and that the office has shown to have declining revenue.

Even though the potential closer of the office has many concerned, Dennis Tarmey, communications programs specialist for greater Boston, said no decisions have been made as yet and that the final decision will be made in early January.

The community meetings are the last step in the review process and a good chance for residents to come show their support for their post office.

The Grove Hall Post Office meeting will be held Wednesday Nov. 16 from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the Grove Hall Community Center.

The Upham's Corner community meeting will be held Thursday Nov. 17 from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at 594 Columbia Rd.

The Postmaster of Boston, James Holland, will also be on hand at both meetings to gather customer input and answer questions.

Email Patrick D. Rosso, Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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