No sooner did word get out that the Park Station post office at 2900 Sacramento Street would be closing on April 30 than community advocates launched another effort to save it.
Steveanne Auerbach, who has been deeply involved the last 18 months with the fight to keep the post office open, got on the phone and ramped up her email efforts on Wednesday to get postal authorities to change their minds.
“I didn’t want the post office to think nothing was happening,” said Auerbach. “I wanted to bring up the points again to see what they could do.”
The post office announced Monday that Park Station, at the intersection of Sacramento and Russell, would close April 30. All the P.O. boxes and other services will be transferred to Station A on San Pablo Avenue near Addison.
Unfortunately, there might not be enough time to change the minds of post office officials, given that the closing is a little more than three weeks away, according to officials. The last push involved a petition drive, letters, community meetings, and discussions with the offices of Congressman Barbara Lee and Senator Dianne Feinstein.
“I would like to believe it’s possible, but the time line is really short right now,” said Stephen Lysaght, the president of the East Bay Local of the American Postal Workers Union. “The post office to us does not seem to care about the needs of the community. We lobbied hard, as did the community. Unfortunately, the postal service made its decision despite that input.”
Eleanor Neal, who has worked at Park Station for 17 years, will be transferred to another post office in Berkeley, said Lysaght. Auerbach had nothing for kind words for the woman whom she regards as an integral part of the community fabric.
“She has worked so hard and served the community so long,” said Auerbach. “She helps people. She’s kind. She’s patient. She’s got a great sense of humor. She has a loyal group of customers.”
Neal would not talk to Berkeleyside about the office closure. Her bosses at the postal service reprimanded her last year for talking to patrons about the proposed closure, said Lysaght. In talking about the closure, she was performing “non-duty related,” activity, which is not permitted, he said.
Clerks don’t have enough information about the post offices’ deliberations to talk to customers about closures, said Gus Ruiz, a spokesman for the postal service.
“A clerk has one duty: to serve those customers,” said Ruiz. “She doesn’t have the information in hand except to tell customers, yes we are closing April 30 — end of comment.”
Auerbach has compiled a list of 25 reasons why the station should not be closed. One of the most important, but intangible reasons, is how it contributes to the community feeling in the area.
“When you go in there and are waiting in line, it’s like a community get-together,” said Auerbach. “As we are waiting in line were are all talking. It’s a friendly environment. There’s no other post office like that.”
Here is the letter Auerbach sent to Kim Fernandez, the district manager of USPS:
Dear Mr. Fernandez:
Please Save Park Station Post Office!
We were glad to see Berkeleyside address the sudden news about the pending closing of the Park Station on Sacramento St. especially given the tight time schedule provided in this notice. A year ago the community was involved in many meetings, discussions and petitions to save Park Station. Then, since no action was taken, everyone considered everything was status quo.
Now we are again upset that this station which has provided quality service to the community for many years is slated to be closed and with such short notice at the end of this month. While this article is valued it does not address all of the larger community concerns. The needs of the entire South Berkeley community must be considered before this decision is made final. We hope it is not too late. We can manage to not have mail delivery on Saturday if that would help to offset the closing of this station.
- Challenges of transportation to another station are especially difficult for those who are disabled and elderly
- Long lines at other stations for services force customers to wait for one hour or more — and further erode use of the Post Office
- Lack of friendly service at other locations
See below for 25 more reasons
25 REASONS TO SAVE PARK STATION POST OFFICE
1. Service at Park Station has existed for 67 years, in a historic building.
2. Customers are happily satisfied with the status of services provided.
3. Station makes money.
4. Station could make more money if given the right opportunity (install a wall of mail boxes, increase diversified supplies, improve overall appearance, provide lunch time backup, add community bulletin board).
5. Making money is not the only but it is an important consideration and many solutions exist.
6. Customers want Park Station to continue operating.
7. Many customers are seniors with limited ability to travel.
8. Many customers are disabled; need service and accessibility.
9. Causing hardships for current loyal customers is not acceptable.
10. Stop Saturday deliveries and save money system wide.
11. Listen to customers and improve quality of Post Office services.
12. Businesses in South Berkeley depend on Park Station.
13. Park Station is seen as great community asset.
14. Customers determined to save essential local services.
15. Customers submitted 80 pages of petitions.
16. Community made requests to Senator Dianne Feinstein (see letter below) Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Mayor Tom Bates, and members of the City Council — Max Anderson, Darryl Moore, Jesse Arreguin and Kriss Worthington.
17. Community reached out to the media.
18. Park Station serves everyone and provides parking space as the only location in Berkeley that offers no metered parking.
19. There is no parking available at other locations.
20. Park Station is viewed as central community benefit.
21. Customers who do not use technology prefer directly purchasing stamps, money orders, and sending packages at this station.
22. Service at other stations is not equal; waiting is challenging if person is disabled, a senior, or a person with a weak bladder or other health issues.
23. Alternative stations are too far a distance and mostly inaccessible.
24. Community encourages selling stamps at more retail outlets to benefit everyone.
25.South Berkeley Community urges Kim Fernandez, District Manager/Bay Valley District, and John Potter, Postmaster General, to recognize the important needs of the South Berkeley community and keep Park Station operating.