CARLSTADT – The Carlstadt post office, dedicated to two local fallen Iraqi War veterans, has survived revenue declines and was spared permanent closure in 2011 but now faces “discontinuance” following a three-alarm fire on April 24 that caused its doors to temporarily shut.
Since the fire, services have been suspended, and pickups and other services routed to the East Rutherford branch about a mile away. Postal officials have sent out notices to its customers that a community meeting is planned at or near the Rutherford post office to explain the postal service’s plans and to solicit comments concerning possible alternative means of providing postal and other services to Carlstadt residents. The date of that meeting has not been set.
But one public official is not waiting for a public meeting and has written to the postal service asking that it continues its service in Carlstadt.
“Although the recent fire was destructive and costly, it should not be used as a pretext to shut down the Carlstadt Post Office,” Congressman Bill Pascrell wrote to Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe. “What is now a temporary inconvenience for Carlstadt postal customers must not become a permanent hardship. My constituents in Carlstadt rely on a convenient and accessible postal location for a wide range of personal and business needs. A failure to quickly reopen, rebuild or relocate the Post Office within Carlstadt would create an unnecessary hardship for these local residents and loyal postal customers. The closure of local post offices in towns like Carlstadt threatens that trust and drives customers to seek out other service providers.”
After the fire last month, residents received an official letter from the United States Postal Service.
“I realize with change there is always concern. No final decision to permanently discontinue the post office has been made,” writes George Caswell Jr., manager, post office operations, NNJD, in the May 2 letter to residents.
Since then, USPS officials have strived to address community concerns.
“I want to emphasize that we are considering all our options for maintaining service in Carlstadt. Currently, our primary consideration is to return to the existing site if the owner fixes the building. USPS guidelines call for a study to be started anytime there is an emergency suspension at a post office. Since we are in the early phases of the review, the revenue is considered business proprietary information at this time. We will keep the community informed as we move forward with our plans,” said George B. Flood, Corporate Communications, USPS – Northeast Area.
In 2011, the Carlstadt Post Office was dropped from a nationwide list of hundreds of postal facilities being investigated for possible closure. East Rutherford’s post office, which was the other local South Bergen facility, was also targeted. In April 2011 the Carlstadt post office was dedicated as the “Staff Sergeant Frank T. Carvill and Lance Corporal Michael A. Schwarz Post Office Building” for two fallen hometown Iraqi war veterans who were killed in action. Both post offices were taken off the list.
It remains unclear if the branch’s revenue declines have been consistently reversed. According to a market analysis of the Carlstadt Post Office, its revenue had declined $62,075 from the 2007 to 2010 fiscal years, but revenue increased slightly, by $3,500, from 2009 to 2010. In 2011, the postal service said that it could save nearly $1.2 million from closing the facility over a 10-year span, but the closure was halted, following public outcry.
Postal officials would not provide details on the Carlstadt post office’s financial situation from 2010 to present, noting only that the “discontinuance” study is standard procedure when a post office experiences an emergency suspension of service such as the April 24 fire.
A total of 713 USPS post offices are in New Jersey. In addition, there are also 21 contract postal units. Contract postal units are privately owned retail outlets operated under contract to the postal service. Typically located inside of an existing business like a pharmacy or convenience store, contract postal units provide retail products and services to postal customers at U.S. Postal Service prices, Flood noted.