April 27, 2010 > Signed, sealed and delivered!
Signed, sealed and delivered!
By Miriam G. Mazliach
Photos By William Mancebo
As residents filed into the Multi-use room at Niles Elementary School, most were not too hopeful that their beloved historic post office, in business since 1873, could be saved. Attendees waited patiently in anticipation of the final decision of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS),
Corporate Communications Manager, Gus Ruiz, addressed the crowd and gave a brief update since January's meeting. The news at that time was not good as the USPS had recorded a loss of $3.8 billion and had experienced a reduction of 25 million pieces of mail handled. Since then, the situation has worsened. "Now we are anticipating $7.8 billion in losses and 11 billion fewer pieces of mail," added Ruiz.
To help with the USPS's situation, Bay-Valley District Manager, Kim Fernandez stated, "We are aggressively looking at ways to reduce costs, including consolidation of offices and partnering with large retailers to mail packages and sell stamps."
Regarding the question of what should happen with the Niles Post Office, Fernandez addressed the crowd. "We did receive an extremely large amount of letters, over 7,000, from residents of Niles. Looking at the community, we decided that we cannot close the Niles station."
At first people seemed stunned, then stood up and cheered! A man got up from his seat and hugged Fernandez.
Fernandez was visibly moved by the reaction of the Niles community. He commented, "I figure you're o.k. with that decision. I really do appreciate the outpouring from the community and it did have an effect on our decision. But, the Post Office still needs revenue and your business. Anything you can do to help would be great and keep those cards and letters coming."
The Niles Post Office, with a net profit of $204,000 from a gross of $400,000 is one of the few profitable post offices in the region. According to Fernandez, "When you look at the entire county, only 10 percent of the post offices are profitable and the other 90 percent don't even cover their costs."
Various attendees stepped up to the microphone to express their gratitude as well as to give suggestions for helping the post office. These ideas ranged from cutting the number of mail delivery days, (although that would have to be changed by Congress), to holding fundraising events and offering special stamp cancellation postmarks.
"I just want to say 'thank you' to Linda Randolph for organizing the community, the office of Pete Stark for standing behind this and the Fremont City Council for helping to keep the Post Office open," said Niles resident David Price.
Linda Randolph, who had stood for 2-1/2 weeks in front of the post office in January collecting signatures said, "I'm thrilled by the outcome and couldn't have done it without the help and efforts of Andrea Gorman."
Retired from the Mission San Jose Post Office, after 23 years, Ralph Bell summed up the feelings of those present with his comments. "They made the right decision. It's great not only for Niles, but for the whole city of Fremont. I'm proud that the Postal Service came around and did what's right. Good for the community of Niles!"