Big Indian Post Office faces closure

By Jay Braman Jr.
The United Stated Post Service has plans to shutter the Big Indian Post Office, Shandaken Town Supervisor Robert Stanley announced last week. Stanley was disappointed with the news he got from Big Indian resident Jeffrey Lasko, who owns the building the United States Postal Service (USPS) leases along Route 28.
“I don’t know,” Stanley said. “This could be the beginning of the end for the hamlet,” he said.
Lasko has been battling with USPS, which plans to let its lease expire at the end of June, despite Lasko’s attempts to negotiate a new one.
Lasko is hoping to enlist help in his effort to convince the powers that be that the post office should stay open.
“Losing such an important component of our local community will have everlasting effects and create such hardships on the local that would never really recover,” Lasko said in a prepared statement. “Our local post offices create a lifeline for residents during bad weather and times of local disasters and the obvious reasons of day-to-day life….without your help and the support of local government the facility will close in a blink of an eye and be lost forever.”
The Big Indian Post Office is not on the most recent list of locations under consideration for closure, published by USPS on January 29. Lasko believes the plan is to not officially close the facility, but to indefinitely suspend service. The result would be the same.
Lasko says the USPS plans to not sign another lease, but call the result an eviction. His research indicates this strategy “has been happening all across America.”
The post office has been struggling with a sharp decline in mail volume as people and businesses switch to e-mail both for personal contact and bill paying. The agency is facing a nearly $7 billion potential loss this fiscal year despite a two-cent increase in the price of stamps in May, cuts in staff and removal of collection boxes.
Post officials sent a list of nearly 700 potential closing candidates to the independent Postal Regulatory Commission for review. More may be added, but the current list of candidates can be viewed at the commission's Web site, http://www.prc.gov. The Web site also has information on the lease/eviction issue.
“A special docket number (PI 2010-1) has been created by the Postal Regulatory Commission concerning these so-called evictions,” Lasko said.
USPS is studying activities of approximately 3,200 stations and branches across the country considering factors such as customer access, service standards, cost savings, impact on employees, environmental impact, real estate values and long-term Postal Service needs.