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City councilors and residents protest closings

Date: 11/22/2011

Nov. 23, 2011

By Katelyn Gendron

Assistant Managing Editor

INDIAN ORCHARD — City Councilors Kateri Walsh and John Lysak and Indian Orchard residents gathered at the Oak Street Post Office on Nov. 18 to voice their discontent with the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) proposal to close the branch as well as the sorting center.

The closure will result in the loss of 160 union jobs and nine supervisory jobs as well as re-route mail to sorting centers in Worcester and Hartford, Conn., Walsh explained.

“I understand that they [USPS] need to save money but when your prices continue to go up and your service gets worse, people are going to start to use another service,” Lysak said.

“We hope that [the Indian Orchard branch] won’t be closed for multiple reasons,” he continued. “There’s a large senior population in Indian Orchard, which rely on the post office there for medications, etc. Indian Orchard is kind of an island among itself in this city. If the sorting center is closed, the mail will be held in Wilbraham. There is no bus route to Wilbraham and it’s quite a bit down from Boston Road. The mail that would go to the Indian Orchard sorting center would [then] go to Worcester or Hartford [Conn., to be sorted] and that will take two to three days extra to be delivered.”

Walsh said she didn’t believe the USPS had considered all the options. “Do they have to close the post office totally? Could they keep it open four days a week?” she asked.

In a statement sent to Reminder Publications, the USPS maintained that the decision to close the branch and sorting center was not final.

“The U.S. Postal Service regularly reviews operations in a continuing effort to improve productivity and increase efficiency. We are currently reviewing local mail processing and transportation operations at more than 200 processing centers nationwide, including Springfield. We are studying the concept. No decisions have been made,” the statement read.

“Having said that, the need to improve operational efficiency and cut costs is even more imperative now that mail volume and revenue have dropped precipitously. Mail volume has decreased by 20 percent since 2007, leaving us with an excess capacity of equipment, staff and facilities to process a declining volume of mail. We have to match our operational capacity to mail volume.

“The AMP [area mail processing] process has proven effective. In 2010, 35 AMP consolidations were implemented for a total savings of over $99 million.

“Similar economic challenges compel the Postal Service to examine opportunities to consolidate postal operations — as we are now studying in the Indian Orchard Branch on Oak Street and nearly 3,700 other locations around the nation that show reduced use, minimum workload and offer nearby postal services.

“We thank the City Council for their concerns and will include their comments in the study packages when they are sent to Washington D.C. for a final decision,” the statement continued.

Walsh and Lysak said they would continue to lobby fellow councilors as well as state and federal legislators to ensure that the Indian Orchard branch and sorting center remain open. The councilors encouraged city residents to do the same by contacting Sen. Scott Brown and Congressman Richard Neal as well as their state legislators.

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