(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)
The USPS announced last year that it would be reviewing post offices throughout the country, two of which are in Dorchester, to see if the offices could be closed to cut costs. In community meetings in Grove Hall and Uphams Corner in November, USPS representatives received an earful from residents who said it was unfair to close a post office that is so important to the community.
Demonstrators reiterated the message Saturday.
“This post office is a major part of people’s lives in this community,” said William Gaul, a 56-year-old fund-raiser who grew up in Grove Hall, located in both Roxbury as well as Dorchester. “This post office is a necessity, not a convenience for those like the elderly, poor and immigrant families that live here.”
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.
The USPS was expected to make their decision sometime in January but has since placed a moratorium on post office closures until May 16. According to Dennis Tarmey, communications programs specialist for the great Boston district USPS, no more community meetings will be held.
Now it is up to residents to organize and show USPS officials in Washington D.C. that the post office can’t be closed.
“I’m here for justice,” said Bishop Teixeira of the Diocese Saint Francis of Assisi. “The problem is when something needs to be cut it starts with us. When the post offices get closed it means we have to pay more. Why take the small things we have?”
Audrey Armand, a 63-year-old employee of the Grove Hall Post Office was also at the rally to let demonstrators and residents know that the employees of the USPS stand behind the community.
“This is disrespectful of the community,” said Armand. “This post office serves the low-income and elderly community and a lot of them don’t have the means to go to another post office.”
If the Grove Hall Post Office were to close the next closet office would be the Uphams Corner Post Office on Columbia Road, which is also another proposed office for closure. If that office were to close as well, the next closest office would be located in Dudley Square in Roxbury, which is more than a mile-and-a-half from the Grove Hall and Uphams Corner post offices.
Representatives from the Boston City Council where also on hand to show their support and to let residents and demonstrators know they aren’t alone in this fight.
“If you want to know what the heart and soul of this city is, come to Grove Hall,” said District 4 City Councilor Charles Yancey. “We will not let this post office be closed. If we fail to stop the closing of this post office who or what will be next?”
District 3 City Councilor Frank Baker also attended the event, marching with demonstrators in front of the post office.
“They [USPS] are coming after an underserved community and we need to make sure we have a voice,” said Baker.
Many of the demonstrators Saturday were frustrated, not only the potential closure of the post office but with other cuts to many vital services. Pamela Hale, a 43-year-old Social Worker from Grove Hall, thought compromise might be a solution.
“I think that it would be better to compromise with the community,” said Hale. “But to completely wipe it out is a disservice to this community.”
To combat the decision by the USPS, Dorchester’s Project R.I.G.H.T. has been collecting signatures to petition the potential closure of the Grove Hall Post Office. As of Jan. 17 Project R.I.G.H.T. representatives said they have collected over 3,800 signatures.
Although Saturday’s demonstration only lasted a couple hours many said they will keep fighting until they know their post office is safe. One community member summed the day up using the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2012)