Ron Bradley, postmaster, North Florida District of the USPS, appeared Tuesday at a meeting to address the proposed closing of the 345 West Broad Ave. post office. Bradley said if the facility were operated under a third party contract he expected box numbers could change and the current zip code would no longer be valid.
ALBANY, Ga. -- Ron Bradley, postmaster of the North Florida District, addressed concerned citizens Tuesday, providing feedback and arguments against the proposed May 2 closing of the U.S. post office at 345 W. Broad Ave. in downtown Albany.
While offering some information about possible alternatives, Bradley mostly listened, promising to pass concerns to his Washington superiors.
Bradley said he was supposed to have been joined by another U.S. Postal Service representative, who was ultimately unable to attend. According to Bradley, the absent representative, Alice Ryles, was "more accustomed to conducting town hall meetings." When U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) of the 2nd Congressional District asked Ryles' title, powers, phone number or city of residence, Bradley could supply none of the information.
Opposition to the proposed closure was voiced in various forms, including lack of service to the downtown community, especially non-driving individuals; loss of community identity, with the disappearance of the century-old facility, as well as cost and inconvenience to business owners who may lose long-time box numbers and zip code.
Bradley said at least some services may be continued. even with the closing of the station, if a third-party can be contracted to operate the facility. However, he "could not promise" box numbers would necessarily remain the same and he expected the present zip code would no longer be effective.
Frances Krack, leasing agent for the Griggs Building where the post office is housed, presented historical information of the facility, much of it documented on what would now be an antique typewriter.
"You folks actually brought the property together and built this for the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Courts. I have history here on where the marble came from, the stone came from for that property. If you took a tour of that property it has nothing but the U.S. Postal Service written all over it. It is a huge history of our downtown and there's no way I could take off the front of that building 'The U.S. Postal Service.'"
Bishop said the USPS, unlike any other federal agency, is required to fund its retiree medical plan in advance. Now the service is around $15 billion in debt. If the USPS were no longer burdened by its funding obligation its debt would be reduced by $11 billion, allowing more post offices to remain open. Bishop said a law to remove the funding burden has passed the U.S. Senate and is stalled in the House.
"Would you suggest contacting our representatives?" someone at the meeting asked.
"You can contact me," Bishop said, "You also have two senators. But more importantly, contact the House leadership -- the speaker of the House, the minority leader of the House, the whip of the House. Those are the people who set the agendas and decide what will or won't be put on the floor for a vote. Mostly it's the speaker."
Bishop said he doesn't know why the House hasn't taken up the bill for a vote except that "they don't want the USPS to recover from its financial crisis.