December 23, 2009 > Fate of historic Niles post office still in limbo
Fate of historic Niles post office still in limbo
By Miriam G. Mazliach
For now it appears that the Mission San Jose Post office has been removed from the Post Office closure list, although the fate of the equally historic Niles Post Office is still undecided. Originally, 677 post offices nation-wide were considered for closure; currently, 170 post offices remain on the list for possible consolidation. (The entire list can be viewed by going to www.usps.com/communications/newsroom/stationbranchop.pdf)
In this troubled economic environment, the shuttering of a number of neighborhood post offices seems to be inevitable. The United States Postal Service recently reported a loss of $3.8 billion for the 2009 fiscal year. Mail volume continues to decrease and the public's dependence on technology for communication, rather than the postal system, has affected the situation.
In November, Niles residents received a survey from the U.S. Postal Service, asking for input concerning a 'possible change' in their postal service. According to the document from Cedric Brown, Manager of Post Office Operations and dated November 19, 2009, "A review of the business activities of the Niles Station revealed that the office workload has declined. This reduced workload and the fact that we have two other Stations/Branches located within a two mile radius suggests that the continuation of Niles Station may not be warranted. Accordingly, we are considering consolidation of the Niles Station."
A community meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, January 5, at 5:30 p.m. at Niles Elementary School, Multi-Use Room, 37141 - 2nd Street in Fremont. Niles residents and all others interested are encouraged to attend and express their opinions.
Terry Grimmer owns the building that houses the Niles Post Office. He doesn't understand why the post office is being considered for closure. "The Niles Post office did $408,000 in walk-in business this year," says Grimmer. He believes it is vital to the community that it remains open as it is relied upon by many of the senior citizens who live within close proximity.
Former Mission San Jose office postmaster, Ralph Bell, recently retired after 23 years there and 39 years overall as a postal employee. Due to the uncertainty of the closures, Bell felt he had no choice but to retire. "I was informed by my union that we were off the list, for the time being, but I was concerned that the situation might change. Long-time employees were offered a financial incentive to retire, which I decided to accept after a lot of consideration," says Bell.
He attributes the thousands of letters and phone calls by Mission area residents to the Postmaster General, Congressman Stark and other legislators, as convincing the powers that be to remove the Mission San Jose post office from the consolidation list. Bell is encouraging the Niles community to do the same.
According to Congressman Stark's office, in Washington, D.C., "We have been working with the Postal Service to try to keep these offices open."
Congressman Stark sent a personal letter to the Postmaster General, dated September 16, referring specifically to the Mission San Jose and Niles Post Offices in Fremont and the Bradford and Mount Eden Post Offices in Hayward.
Stark stated in part, "I urge you to do all you can to keep these offices in business. The accessible locations of these post office branches make them indispensable to my constituents, especially since other post offices are miles apart and separated by heavy traffic."
Bell is also offering his support to the Niles community and states, "I told the postal union that I'll do anything I can to help keep the Niles Post Office open."
The current consolidation list, as of December 14, 2009, can be viewed by going to www.usps.com/communications/newsroom/stationbranchop.pdf
If you would like to let your opinion be known, here is the contact information for the Postmaster General, Congressman Pete Stark and the Niles Community Meeting:
John E. Potter
Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer
475 L'Enfant Plaza, S.W.
Washington, DC 20260-0010
Write or call:
The Honorable Fortney 'Pete' Stark
39300 Civic Center Drive, Suite 220
Fremont, CA 94538
(510) 494-1388 Fremont office
(202) 225-5065 Washington, D.C. office
Niles Community Meeting
Tuesday, January 5
Niles Elementary School, Multi-Use Room
37141 - 2nd Street, Fremont