Dozens of people Wednesday night spoke against a plan to close the Northport post office, many saying it's a vital part of the village's identity and must stay open.
"We don't want to just save the building; we want to save the business," said Sherry Pavone, a 38-year Northport resident. "The heart of our village is the post office."
"Post offices are a central component of the economic and social vitalities of Main Street," said Eric Alexander, a Northport resident who runs a smart-growth nonprofit in the village.
Northport's board of trustees hosted the forum at the American Legion hall after news surfaced that the U.S. Postal Service aims to close the 240 Main St. site and find a smaller location for retail services. Carrier operations, which include 19 routes, would be shifted to the East Northport Post Office.
Nationwide, the Postal Service is tightening its real estate holdings as first-class mail volume -- and revenues -- drop. Last year, the agency reported losses of more than $5 billion.
Northport Village Mayor George Doll told the crowd of about 150 people that the meeting marked "the beginning of our fight to keep it open."
Doll was supported by state and local officials, including Asharoken Mayor Gregory Letica. Representatives of Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) also attended.
In another show of support, the Huntington Town Board unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday to write a letter to congressional leaders opposing the Northport closure.
"It is very critical to have a community response," said Pete Furgiuele, president of the Long Island chapter of the American Postal Workers Union. "You have to let the post office know you won't stand for it."
Postal Service officials say they're looking for a new Northport site that's about a quarter of the size of the existing 15,201-square-foot location. Requests for proposals are going out at the end of the month, the agency said.
Connie Chirichello, Postal Service spokeswoman for the Northeast region, said the plan is in the "early stages of our review process" and a meeting with elected officials and the community will be held.
Israel said in a letter Wednesday night that he intends to host that meeting in his district office. No date has been scheduled.
Chirichello stressed that the Postal Service has to be self-supporting.
"No tax dollars pay our way," she said. "Rather, those who use mail service support the Postal Service and as that continues to evolve, we must look at all options."