Press Release from Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ)
USPS Set to Shut Freehold Downtown Station
Smith, Freehold Borough & Twp. Mayors: Post Office Breaking Its Promise
Washington, Jul 15 –
Congressman Chris Smith today blasted the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) ill-conceived plan announced Monday that it intends to close the Freehold Downtown Station in the borough that serves over 25,000 people.
“The data is lacking and the timing suspect,” said Smith, who met with USPS officials in March. “It directly contradicts what they told a group of local leaders in a meeting we co-hosted in borough hall in March. Postal officials specifically promised that no decision would be made before they answered some basic inquiries about the costs of closure, and until they conducted a second meeting with community officials to discuss those costs. Those promises are being broken.”
Smith fired off a letter to the regional head of the USPS in Pittsburgh, Vice President of Operations Megan Brennan, requesting that she step in.
“The USPS needs to make good on its word and put off a final decision until it fulfills the commitment it made to the community,” Smith said.
USPS South Jersey District Manager Joe Diglio confirmed Monday that he plans to steer postal customers to the heavily used Freehold Township Post Office on County Road 537, which is 2.4 miles away to the west in the Raintree Towne Center. Residents from the eastern areas of Freehold Township would have an even longer drive. That center is extremely congested, with little parking available in a narrow, bottleneck configuration.
Borough Mayor Michael Wilson, speaking on behalf of the Freehold Governing Body, said he was appalled with the announced closure of the Freehold Downtown Post Office.
“This announcement lacks foresight and understanding of the greater Freehold area,” Wilson said. “It had been clearly conveyed to the appropriate postal authorities that Freehold Borough, the county seat, serves as the focal point of commerce, law, government, and social services for the entire County of Monmouth. Moreover, Freehold Borough has a significantly large amount of pedestrian traffic. I demand that the Post Office reconsider this action. The Freehold Postal Facility consists of nothing more than a trailer and is efficiently managed. I am unaware of any county seat in the State of New Jersey that does not have a post office!
“The news of the closure was solemn enough,” Wilson continued. “However, the method used to finalize the closure was equally bad. When we first met in March, there was a promise by postal officials for future meetings and dialogue on the planned consolidation order. Unfortunately, there were no more meetings, no telephone calls, no e-mails, and unanswered requests for meetings and updates. Their lack of responsiveness and cooperation clearly points to a complete abuse toward the citizens who avail themselves of this facility. They even lacked the common courtesy of advanced notice to Borough officials of the closure. I certainly appeal to the postal officials to reconsider this potentially disastrous decision.”
Freehold Township Mayor Anthony J. Ammiano, speaking on behalf of the Township Committee, expressed shock and anger over notification of the closing of Borough post office.
“At a March 2009 meeting, we were told no decision would be made until further discussions and meetings were held on the issue with representatives from the State, County, Freehold Borough, Freehold Center Partnership and the Township of Freehold,” Ammiano said. “This bad decision not only impacts the residents of Freehold Borough but also the 15,000 Freehold Township residents that live on the east side of the Township. This closing will add an additional 25,000 customers to the Raintree Postal facility. This plan, which was obviously based on economics, is bad for Freehold Borough and the residents of Freehold Township.”
The 800-square-foot Freehold Downtown Station facility has over 400 rented P.O. boxes, and has been open for nearly eight years on land provided free of charge by the county. It has a spacious parking lot, but is utilized by significant pedestrian traffic from the nearby county administration offices, the Superior Court complex and municipal offices, plus the businesses and offices along Main Street in a two-square mile town which has over 11,000 residents. Thousands of more residents of the eastern side of Freehold Township would have an even longer drive.
The proposal to close the Freehold Downtown Station and shifting its business to Freehold Township is a mistake, Smith said. It makes borough residents and employees from surrounding offices who now walk to the station drive a nearly five-mile trip to check their P.O. boxes or purchase stamps or services. The proposal puts a lot of cars on the road and sends them to an overcrowded, congested facility.
Smith noted that Freeholders Barbara McMorrow and Lillian Burry, State Sen. Jennifer Beck and Assembly Members Declan O’ Scanlon and Caroline Casagrande have also expressed concern about the proposal to close the Freehold Downtown Station.
He noted that in all of the 21 counties in New Jersey the town which hosts the county government has its own postal facility, some more than one. Additionally, more than one-third of those are in towns smaller than Freehold Borough, he said.
“Monmouth County is the fourth most populated county in the state, and Freehold Borough as its seat of government should have its own postal facility,” Smith said. “I think the postal service will lose a lot of customers if they follow through with this misguided proposal.”