The nearest branch for many would be the branch on Route 9W in Selkirk.
“You could have people four or five miles away who can’t travel to another post office,” said Messina, who also raised the issue of the post office being something of a gathering place for residents in the area.
“We need to recognize that being a community gathering place is not our constitutional role,” said Rizzo. “The reality is that, with a $10 billion annual loss this year and continued losses projected as the public uses less hard copy mail, we cannot afford to keep offices open just for this purpose.
McLaughlin pointed out that the biggest impact of a post office branch closure may be felt by seniors.
“You may be getting medication delivered to that post office, and if you now need to drive seven or eight miles to get to the other post office, and it’s a February day and it’s –10 degrees and might be icy, it’s really dangerous,” said McLaughlin.
The assemblyman credited postal service officials with being proactive and available to the public to answer questions. A public meeting on the future of the South Bethlehem office was held in October. Messina came away with the idea that there were options available other than closing offices.
“The sense I got from the operational people I was talking to, they were almost begging that the policy makers and federal legislators look at options for service delivery, and not just cut what is there.”
Rizzo said a notice proposing the closure of the South Bethlehem post office will be up at the facility until Nov. 17. After that, a final determination would be made. Customers would then have a 30-day period to file an appeal if a decision to close is made.