Johnny Williams, who has a shoe service inside the post office, city commissioner Roger Marietta and leasing agent, Frances Krack, address a group of citizens protesting the proposed closing of the post office on West Broad Avenue. (Oct. 19, 2012)
ALBANY, Ga. — More than 40 people were carrying signs Friday afternoon near the steps of the post office at 345 W. Broad Ave. The idea was to sign petitions and to bring attention to the community’s potential loss of the century-old facility.
Originally set for closure on Dec. 2 by the U.S. Postal Service, postal officials have entered into a six-month extension of the building’s lease with its owners.
“That’s our backup plan,” said Frances Krack, leasing agent for the Griggs building, which houses the facility, “that we can have someone from the private sector move in and contract with the U.S. Postal Service and actually continue the service just as it is today. We just ask that people be patient with us. We feel that everything will work out.”
Krack said that while the petitions request that Congress spare the facility, she doesn’t believe it will happen without some type of privatization. According to Krack, a private company might contract USPS employees to do the work.
“You’ll know they’re bonded,” Krack said. “You’ll know it’s safe. You’ll know it’s going to be there.”
Johnny Williams and his bother Tony operate “Rabbit Man,” a shoe service, inside the post office building. They were uncertain of their own potential loss of income, but expressed concern for the community as well. Johnny Williams said he had collected as many as 250 supportive signatures in a single day. He was “very disappointed” with the lack of local leadership at the post office rally, he said.
Lorie Farkas, assistant general manager of the Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission, said the post office building was a part of the “life’s blood” of Albany.
“It’s great to have a mall,” Farkas said to the crowd. “Its great to have shopping. But if you don’t have a downtown, you don’t have a personality.”
Albany City Commissioner Roger Marietta said the biggest problem for the USPS came in 2006 when Congress passed a law requiring the agency to fund in advance future retiree healthcare benefits.
“That’s a huge financial burden, which is at the root of all their financial problems,” Marietta said.
According to the Marietta, the U.S. Senate realized it had made a mistake and passed a Postal Service reform bill. The bill, however has not passed the House. Marietta urged those who were concerned with the possible closing of the downtown post office to go to www.congress.org and tell their representatives.
“If we get the 50 people who were here today and 500 more that read the paper and watch TV to go to www.congress.org and send a letter of support, (Congress) will stand up and do something,” Marietta said.