Flushing mail center may close


| jlane@queenscourier.com |

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CAPITOL HEIGHTS, UNITED STATES: A postal employee attends to an automated sorting machine at the United States Postal Service's processing and distribution center in Capitol Heights, Maryland, 19 December 2002. The processing and distribution center, which operates 24-hours a day, expects to handle some 800,000 pieces of mail 19 December 2002, two times the normal amount, as Christmas approaches. AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Due to drastic declines in mail volume, state and nationwide, the Queens Processing and Distribution Center in Flushing may be closed or consolidated, according to the United States Postal Service (USPS).

The center — the only one in Queens under study — is responsible for sorting and distributing mail throughout Queens. It joins 255 other centers nationwide that are at risk of being shut down.

“We have too many processing plants that are not operating at 100 percent capacity because we have no mail,” said USPS spokesperson Darleen Reid. “It doesn’t make good business for us to continue 452 facilities when we can reduce that by half and still process the mail.”

Reid said the USPS is looking to possibly consolidate its operations into the Brooklyn New York Processing and Distribution Center or the Morgan Processing and Distribution Center in Manhattan.

As far as service, only first-class mail products would be affected, Reid said.

“Right now we can get first-class mail from Queens to Brooklyn or to Manhattan in one to two days. We’re changing that nationally to two to three days,” she said.

There will be no other changes since other mail classes already follow a two to three day delivery standard, Reid said.

According to the USPS, annual mail volume has declined by more than 43 billion pieces in the past five years and is continuing to decline. Total first-class mail has dropped 25 percent and single piece first-class mail — letters bearing postage stamps — has declined 36 percent in the same timeframe.

“Mail volumes have been going down drastically since 2006 and we anticipate that our first-class mail product is never going to return to previous peak levels,” Reid said.

The postal service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies completely on their own products and services for funding. Its main product is first-class mail, Reid said.

“As first class mail declines, so does our revenue and our revenue continues to go down. We’re facing a financial short-fall by the end of September,” she said.

USPS studies will be concluded in three months. By then, they will announce the results to the general public. At that time, mailers will be given the opportunity to comment during public meetings. Their comments will then be considered before the final decision.