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Baltimore City Council members oppose post office closings

Chanting "Return to sender" outside the Waverly post office Wednesday, four Baltimore City Council members protested a United States Postal Service plan to close as many as eight post offices in the city.

On the list is Waverly, 3000 Homewood Ave., which serves 52,000 residents in Zip Code 21218, making it the second most-used post office in the city, said Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, who organized the protest and press conference.

"Today we have come with a message, and the message is, 'Return to sender,'"" said Clarke, who appeared with fellow council members Sharon Green Middleton, Warren Branch andHelen Holton.

The council members said the plan wouldn't save very much money, and would hurt lower-income residents, who depend on a nearby post office because they don't have cars,

"We can't afford to get recommended for closure," Clarke said, and called on Congress " to help us get off the review list."

A feisty Holton threatened to protest outside the U.S. Capitol building in Washington. Holton said that in addition to hurting the poor by making them travel farther to the nearest post office, the plan would increase blight in neighborhoods because the post office buildings likely would be abandoned.

"Stop making cuts on the back of people who can least afford the cuts being made," Holton said.

Branch said closing post offices would force poorer people to travel "on means and money and transportation that they don't have."

Middleton said remaining post offices, some of them in old, small buildings, could be left to serve too many people.

And Clarke said any plan by the postal service to become more of an online service would hurt people who don't own computers.

The postal service announced July 26 that it will begin a study of 3,700 of its retail locations nationwide, 42 of them in Maryland,- to look at usage and the viability of those locations.

The study does not mean necessarily that postal retail locations will close, said Freda Sauter, postal service spokeswoman. Sauter also said there is no timetable for completion of the study.

However, according to a postal service release, given the close proximity of some retail locations to others, as well as options available for purchasing stamps and receiving other services, the postal service is aiming to "right-size its expansive retail network" to better align its services with customer demand based on workload, revenue, and expenses.

It was an inopportune time to be protesting federal cost-cutting, a day after the Senate approved a reduction of more than $2 trillion in federal spending over 10 years. But even with looming budget cuts, "there's still a fight to be had," Holton said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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