Schenectady County

January post office closure plan faces fight from Alplaus citizens (with video)

Residents of the hamlet of Alplaus are rallying to save their picturesque post office, which could f

Residents of the hamlet of Alplaus are rallying to save their picturesque post office, which could fade into history.

The post office received a letter from the U.S. Postal Service on Nov. 2 that the facility would close at the end of business on Jan. 6, according to Postmaster Kathy Boyle.

The Alplaus Road facility operates under contract with the Rexford post office. The letter attributed the closing to a contract with American Postal Workers Union, Boyle said.

U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Maureen Marion said a new contract with the union representing clerks and front window employees states that more work must be brought in-house to be done by union members. “This is no reflection on the good folks in Alplaus but it is something that we are required to do,” she said.

Services at the Alplaus location will likely be handled at the Rexford location, according to Marion.

Boyle said she doesn’t think it’s fair to close her facility, which brings in up to $40,000 a year in profit. She is paid a salary of $22,000 and takes no benefits.

“We’re not a huge post office that is making hundreds of thousands of dollars but they’re losing money and we’re not, so it’s kind of disheartening.”

Over the summer, U.S. Postal Service officials announced that they were considering closing more than 3,600 of the nearly 32,000 retail outlets across the country to save money. The agency, which receives no federal subsidy, has a massive deficit. Fewer people are using mail as they are conducting business over the Internet and the weak economy caused a sharp drop in advertising mailers.

Residents of the 200-person community are writing letters and calling elected officials to try to save the facility. A meeting has been organized for Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Alplaus fire station next to the post office.

Andy Gilpin, president of the Alplaus Residents Association, said, “We don’t want it to close. It’s an important part of our community. It’s the center of our little hamlet.”

Common ground

The facility is used for everything from posting notices of upcoming events to serving as a safe area for children to congregate when they get off the school bus, according to residents and postal officials.

“It’s basically a gathering center for the residents,” Boyle said. “Many of them are seniors. It also serves as community outreach.”

Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said closing the facility makes no business sense and would be bad for the environment since it is walking distance for many people in Alplaus. “We’re going to put more people in cars on streets,” he said.

Alplaus resident Norman Hopson, 87, walked with his dog to get the mail on Thursday.

“I’ve lived in Alplaus for over 50 years and this has been my only post office,” he said. “There is a post office up in Rexford but it’s on Route 146 and it’s very, very busy and it’s difficult to get in and out of.”

Chuck Fetter, owner of Chuck’s Reconditioning Service, said he comes to the post office all the time. “It’s convenient. It’s friendly. It’s been a good place.”

The post office occupies the first floor of the two-story building. Built in 1906, the building originally housed the Boyce Grocery Store, according to a 2001 Daily Gazette article. The post office moved into the current building in 1943. It has remained there since, except for a stretch from 1987 to 1999 when it moved to a nearby location and a gift shop took its place.

The post office is open from 10 a.m. to noon and 1:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.

Postal Workers union spokeswoman Sally Davidow said she was not familiar with the specific case but noted that the postal service is planning to close thousands of offices nationwide. “If they have what they call excess capacity, they may try to return some of the work they contract on,” she said.

Residents hope they follow in the footsteps of Scotia, which was successful in removing its post office from the closure list after an intense lobbying campaign.

The last time this post office was threatened with closure about 10 years ago, Boyle said, then-U.S. Rep. Michael McNulty helped lobby to have it taken off the list. Support from residents is crucial.

“I run the business but it’s the residents that keep it alive and want it there,” Boyle said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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