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Northport Village board opposes post office plan

Longtime Northport residents John Brooks, left, and Robert

Longtime Northport residents John Brooks, left, and Robert Clelland chat outside the Northport Post Office in downtown Northport during the lunch hour. (Sept. 18, 2012) Credit: Amanda Voisard

The Northport Village Board of Trustees has officially joined heated opposition to a plan that would give the downtown post office and its mail carriers a change of address.

The board Tuesday night unanimously approved a resolution opposing the United States Postal Service's slated plan to sell the Main Street post office, open a smaller retail operation in Northport and move carriers to the East Northport facility.

"It is going to be devastating to our retailers," said village resident Karen Lemke.

Residents and elected officials say the post office is the heart of the community and it supports local business by bringing foot traffic downtown. Many are working to save the post office by getting petitions signed, reaching out to federal officials and asking whether the village can take legal action, which the village attorney says he is researching.

While residents and elected officials worry that the agency is going to move too quickly with its plan, the USPS released a statement Tuesday to Newsday saying it will not move before conferring with officials and holding a public meeting.

"Only after the public meeting would the USPS market this building or seek alternate quarters," said USPS spokeswoman Connie Chirichello.

Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) has been working to arrange a meeting -- set for the first week in October -- with village Mayor George Doll, Deputy Mayor Henry Tobin and Post Office officials, Israel's office said.

Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have also become involved in the post office fight, saying they, too, want it to remain downtown at its current site.

"While we understand and appreciate the Postal Service's need to maximize network efficiency, we believe relocating the Northport Post Office from its current location would be detrimental to this Long Island community," said Democrats Schumer and Gillibrand, both of New York, in a letter addressed to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.

If the USPS is committed to selling the property, the letter says, Gillibrand and Schumer propose that the agency include language in its Request for Proposals, set for release Saturday, that gives priority to potential buyers and developers who promise to include space for the Northport post office in any new development on the site.

The senators also say relocated carriers "should be given adequate time to compensate for longer commutes to and from their new facility, and their existing designated mail routes."

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