USPS may shut Brockton and Wareham sites
The US Postal Service is considering closing down and consolidating several mail-processing plants in Massachusetts, two of them in Brockton and Wareham.
Most postal customers won’t be familiar with these mail facilities. Unlike a typical post office, they aren’t open to the public. There are no PO boxes, and they don’t sell stamps. These are the facilities where much of the behind-the-scenes work takes place - where the mail gets processed and sorted for distribution before it lands in your mailbox.
Brockton and Wareham are among seven such facilities in Massachusetts that the Postal Service is studying for possible closure or consolidation.
The Brockton facility at 225 Liberty St. employs 396 people; the Wareham facility at 25 Tobey Road employs approximately 100. The five other facilities are in Boston, Lowell, North Reading, Shrewsbury, and Waltham.
Postal Service spokesman Dennis Tarmey said the study should take two to three months. He said if the Postal Service decides to move forward and consolidate any of these operations, community meetings would be held so citizens can voice concerns and ask questions.
“It’s not a done deal, by any means,’’ said Tarmey.
He said nearly all of the mail-processing facilities in Massachusetts - except for the one in Springfield - are included in this study.
And Massachusetts is not alone: The cash-strapped Postal Service is looking at as many as 250 facilities across the country for possible consolidation or closure.
The proposed consolidation is part of a broad restructuring plan postal officials say could save the agency up to $3 billion a year. The Postal Service aims to cut costs by reducing mail-processing equipment, scaling back its nationwide transportation network, cutting its workforce by as many as 35,000 positions, and lengthening the delivery time for first-class mail by one day.
Officials say downsizing is necessary because mail volume has decreased tremendously in recent years. “We’re just trying to adjust accordingly,’’ said Tarmey.
With more people using e-mail and cellphones to communicate, the handwritten letter has become a thing of the past. Businesses can build websites instead of mailing out paper catalogs. And the shaky economy - and competition from private delivery companies - hasn’t helped things, either.
“We are forced to face a new reality today,’’ said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in a statement announcing plans. “With the dramatic decline in mail volume and the resulting excess capacity, maintaining a vast national infrastructure is no longer realistic.’’
According to the Postal Service’s latest figures, mail volume has declined by more than 43 billion pieces in the past five years. The number of letters with postage stamps has declined 36 percent in five years, and by nearly 50 percent over the past decade.
Meanwhile, local officials are bracing for the results of the agency’s study.
Mary Waldron, executive director of the Brockton 21st Century Corporation, said she will be working with Brockton Mayor Linda M. Balzotti, the Metro South Chamber of Commerce, businesses, and politicians to ensure that the city doesn’t lose its mail plant and the 396 jobs it provides.
If the Brockton postal facility were to close, Waldron said, it would have “a huge impact’’ on the neighborhood. “That whole area of Pearl and West Chestnut Street and Belmont Street has really grown,’’ she said. “There are restaurants in the area that I’m sure many of the workers utilize. When you take those workers away . . . that can be detrimental.’’
Waldron said surrounding towns from which the postal workers commute would also feel the loss. “It’s a big impact on the region,’’ she said. “It just doesn’t affect Brockton. It’s pretty substantial.’’