Testimony of Borough President Diaz
RE: Potential Sale of the Bronx General Post Office
I testify today to express my dismay at the process employed by the United States Postal Service in the proposed sale and closure of the borough’s flagship General Post Office, located on East 149th Street and the Grand Concourse.
My intention here is not to discuss relocation, but rather the decision to close this vital and historically significant resource in the first place. I cannot imagine that anyone with any knowledge of the importance of this building to Bronx County would consider its closure.
The building sits at the intersection of East 149th Street and the Grand Boulevard and Concourse, two of the principal thoroughfares of the borough, and its significance as a recognized icon across the Bronx and the City is without question. Additionally, the building was designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1976 and is listed as well on the National and State Registers of Historic Places.
The building’s interior design, including its grand interior spaciousness and artistically significant murals painted by renowned artist Ben Shahn, make transacting business at this flagship facility an ennobling experience and a succession of interior and exterior public spaces of great pride to the borough.
The building also serves as a focal point for this critical residential, transportation, institutional and commercial nexus in the borough. Its loss would have severe implications for the entirety of the Bronx. We cannot and will not accept that the United States Postal Service could come to such a deleterious determination with an impact on such an important part of our Bronx heritage.
In addition, the loss of this important service at precisely this location will invariably have a detrimental impact on the area’s local institutions, businesses and most importantly our residents, who depend on the Post Office for more than the purchase of stamps. Residents and businesses alike in this borough need this facility to conduct their normal business transactions. The loss of this facility would mean that residents and business would have the added burden of traveling into Manhattan for certain services that should, by right, be available to them in the Bronx.
We are hereby challenging the Postal Service’s determination to sell this historic facility, and demand an explanation of how the agency arrived at its decision. We demand to know what public participation process was employed to close this valuable facility.
The December 31, 2012, letter from a United States Postal Service real estate specialist asking to “work in partnership” with my office “and the community” to discuss relocation is woefully unacceptable. In fact, the decision by the United States Postal Service to distribute this letter to the public by, posting it in the building, does not constitute this act as public notification and in fact indicates a lack of desire to actually work with us. It further implies that community input is not a priority to the United States Postal Service.
The Bronx General Post Office is a treasured and useful structure in our borough, and any consideration of its sale serves to remind us of how little regard the United Postal Service has for the people of this borough and by extension to this city. The Bronx has been thriving and has shown that it can be as vital as any other borough in this city. This decision must be reversed.