Staten Island, NY – On Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand’s first visit to Staten Island as a United States Senator today, she stood with Rep. Michael E. McMahon and union members in front of Staten Island’s mail sorting facility to call for the center to remain open. The members of Congress released their joint letter to Mr. Vito Cetta, executive-in-charge of the Staten Island mail sorting facility, urging him to keep the facility from closing. Mr. Cetta is overseeing an upcoming study on the feasibility of consolidating the mail sorting facility on Staten Island with ones in Brooklyn and/or Queens. On their tour of the 13th Congressional District hosted by Rep. McMahon, the members later visited a senior center in Brooklyn and the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce.
Among the concerns voiced by the Senator and Congressman at the mail sorting facility were delayed mail service, the potential transfer of Postal Service employees who reside in Staten Island and would face an arduous commute to work, and the increase of traffic and pollution. Specifically, the letter stated: “If the Staten Island facility is closed, many of [the Postal Service] workers would be transferred to other facilities to work. This would present us with the dilemma of Staten Islanders going to Brooklyn to sort mail from Staten Islanders to Staten Islanders…The mail of over 480,000 people will be unnecessarily transported across multiple boroughs, snarling traffic and polluting the air.”
“As we navigate through this economic crisis, it is essential that we keep jobs right here in our communities. The jobs at the Staten Island Postal Facility are the livelihood for 300 local families. These employees work hard to make sure Staten Island’s mail service is first rate – these jobs must be maintained,” said Senator Gillibrand.
“The idea that the United States Postal Service would look at eliminating mail processing facilities on Staten Island is unacceptable. Not only is this a local job issue, but it is a transportation and logistical issue as well. It would be a bad idea for congestion management and for the environment to move mail processing to Brooklyn meaning hundreds of trips a week across the Verrazano bridge for letters going to Staten Island,” said Congressman Michael E. McMahon.
On February 13, 2009, Rep. McMahon received a letter from Mr. Fred C. Fischer, President of the American Postal Workers Union, informing him of the upcoming study. This was in response to a letter sent from the United States Postal Service on February 10, 2009 soliciting ways to streamline and improve mail delivery and efficiency. According to the USPS letter, Mr. Fischer was merely being informed of the studies and if the results supported consolidation, the USPS would then consider community input. Upon hearing this news, Sen. Gillibrand and Rep. McMahon agreed to fight to prevent this unnecessary consolidation.
Mr. Fischer also contacted State Senator Diane Savino, who joined in the conversation on February 24, 2009.
Now, representatives from the post office are saying the potential move is not happening. Sen. Gillibrand and Rep. McMahon vow to get to the bottom of this issue before the mail service on Staten Island officially deserves the name “snail mail.”
The text of the letter from Sen. Gillibrand and Rep. McMahon to Mr. Cetta is below.
March 4, 2009
Vito J. Cetta
District Manager/Executive in Charge
1050 Forbell Street
Brooklyn, New York, 11256
Dear Mr. Cetta:
We are writing to you regarding the upcoming study on the feasibility of consolidating Staten Island’s mail sorting facility to Brooklyn and/or Queens.
We are concerned that closing the Staten Island facility would not only lead to delayed mail service to our constituents, but would have potentially harmful consequences from both an economic and environmental standpoint.
The Staten Island facility employs close to 300 Postal Service Employees; over 90 percent of these workers are Staten Island residents. If the Staten Island facility is closed, many of these workers would be transferred to other facilities to work. This would present us with the dilemma of Staten Islanders going to Brooklyn to sort mail from Staten Islanders to Staten Islanders.
Staten Island is connected to Brooklyn only by the Verrazano Bridge. Any sort of traffic delay or bridge closure could result in thousands upon thousands of backlogged letters. Transporting mail to and from Staten Island will result in many more trucks on our already overly-congested roads. The mail of over 480,000 people will be unnecessarily transported across multiple boroughs, snarling traffic and polluting the air.
Without a mail processing facility on Staten Island, correspondence among Island residents could be delayed greatly. A letter sent from Stapleton to Tottenville would have to go across the Verrazano Bridge to Brooklyn, then back across the bridge and across the island. The geographical nature of Staten Island suggests that the mail sorting facilities be located on the island to minimize transportation time and costs.
We appreciate the need for the postal service to re-evaluate programs in light of the current economy. However, I believe there are ways to cut costs without reducing or denying service to our constituents. Thank you for allowing me to express my concerns and I look forward to working with you in the future. Please feel free to contact us or our staff so we can discuss this further.