Greg Calala, who was mailing a package at the Point Place post office, says the site should stay open. The location is tough enough for him to get to now, he says.
The post office in Point Place is an unassuming one-story building near the banks of the Maumee River. It sits next to a vacant laundromat and its tall flag pole is rusted, with flaking white paint.
Despite its humble appearance, the station boasted a steady tide of customers Tuesday afternoon -- customers who soon might be without a nearby post office.
The U.S. Postal Service is considering closing five post office locations in Toledo -- the Point Place station, the Manhattan Boulevard office, the Midtown branch on Dorr Street, the Old West End station on Ashland Avenue, and Station A on Second Street in East Toledo.
Those locations are among 3,653 local offices, branches, and stations nationwide that the financially strapped Postal Service announced Tuesday would be considered for closure, although many of those may be replaced by so-called village post offices where postal services are offered in local stores, libraries, or government offices.
"It's no secret that the Postal Service is looking to change the way we do a lot of things," Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said at a briefing. "We do feel that we are still relevant to the American public and the economy, but we have to make some tough choices."
The post office on Second Street in East Toledo could possibly be replaced by a village post office, in which postal services are offered in local stores, libraries, or government offices.
The agency operates 31,871 retail outlets across the country, down from 38,000 a decade ago. But in recent years, business has declined sharply as first-class mail moved to the Internet. In addition, the recession resulted in a decline in advertising mail, and the USPS lost $8 billion last year.
Still, local officials, including U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), vowed to fight the potential closures.
"The cuts seem to be focused in rural areas and the underserved neighborhoods in our urban communities," said Miss Kaptur, whose congressional district includes several threatened post offices in rural areas such as North Bass Island and Clay Center in Ottawa County. "These are the parts of our community where a lot of people don't have cars and where there are a lot of elderly people, so it's a matter of customer service," she said.
This is the second time the postal service is considering closing the Midtown and Point Place offices.
Toledo Councilman Wilma Brown, who fought against a Midtown closure in 2009, said she was devastated when she saw Midtown on the list again.
Closing that location would undermine revitalization efforts on Dorr Street and create a hardship for residents who don't own vehicles, Ms. Brown said.
"We need that post office there," she said.
The possible Point Place closure has the potential to wreak even more havoc this time around, said Toledo Councilman Lindsay Webb, who represents the area. That's because the next closest post office is on Manhattan Boulevard, and it's on the list this time, too.
"It would be a huge burden on North Toledo," she said.
Back in 2009, residents of Point Place picketed outside the post office to protest its possible closure. "I would venture to guess they'll launch a similar effort this time," Ms. Webb said.
Indeed, several customers at the Point Place post office voiced opposition to the potential closing.
"I don't think it's a good idea," said Greg Calala, who was mailing a package to his daughter in Georgia. "It's hard enough for me to get to the post office anyway."
Heidi Axtell, who lives down the street from the post office, said she uses it three times a week.
"It's constantly busy," she said. "I don't know where we would even go."
The sentiment was the same in East Toledo, where Debbie McDaniel was buying stamps at the two-story brick building that houses Station A.
"I hope they don't close it," Ms. McDaniel said. "It's real convenient."
Debbie McDaniel of Toledo laments the possible closure of Station A at 618 Second Street, noting its convenience.
Coming under review doesn't necessarily mean an office will close. The post office announced in January it was reviewing 1,400 offices for closing. So far 280 have been closed and 200 have finished the review process and will remain open.
Victor Dubina, a Postal Service spokesman for Northern Ohio, said the review process likely will take four to six months. Once an office is selected for a review, people served by that office have 60 days to file comments. If an office is to be closed, residents will be able to appeal to the independent Postal Regulatory Commission.
The process will move much more quickly than the 2009 review process, Mr. Dubina said, given the postal service's financial "dire straits."
Teaming up with local businesses to do things such as sell stamps and mail small packages would be a win-win, he said.
The vast majority of sales in post offices are of stamps, he said, and that can easily be handled at the village post offices. Already some 70,000 locations such as supermarkets and department stores sell stamps. Additionally, such offices would accept flat-rate packages, and some could provide post office box service. For passports or other more complex services, customers would have to go to a remaining regular post office.
Contact Tony Cook at: email@example.com, or 419-724-6065.
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