The US Postal Service held its perfunctory meeting on the possible closing of Boca’s only downtown Post Office today. As expected, an overflow crowd of very unhappy residents showed up—despite the fact that the public session was scheduled at 4:30 in the afternoon on the eve of Passover and Easter.
Mr. Damian Salazar, a “real estate specialist” from USPS’ Dallas office conducted the meeting. He has obviously done this before. He explained:
- The current situation is the result of the Post Office losing its lease;
- USPS would really like to relocate to a smaller, more efficient location somewhere, preferably “nearby”;
- There is a legal process which is triggered by this public meeting, followed by 30 days for comment and then a “decision”;
- USPS has identified some alternative sites, but is nowhere close to choosing any one of them, if they choose any at all. He offered a vague pledge to keep the current location operating “until a suitable alternative can be found and provided we have a lease,” but then admitted that the decision was not his to make.
Mr. Salazar then took “questions” from the floor. His scattershot approach to receiving citizen input further exacerbated the frustration of those present. However, amidst the somewhat chaotic outrage, a few important facts emerged:
- The USPS does have a four-year lease on the property. It was signed by the landlord seven months ago and has been sitting on somebody’s desk at USPS ever since. It is a four-year extension, but the landlord was never advised that USPS was looking for a ten-year lease as Mr. Salazar claimed. The landlord is Jim Batmasian from Investments Limited. He was at the meeting, and expressed a willingness to negotiate a 10-year lease and he even offered to work with USPS to help them relocate to another of his properties once they sign the lease. This was above Mr. Salazar’s pay grade, but he promised to pass along the offer.
- After today’s public meeting, the public has 30 days to send comments in writing (hard copy) to Mr. Damian Salazar, 7800 N. Stemmons Fwy., Suite 400, Dallas, TX 75247-4220. Only hard copies by mail will do. Apparently the USPS needs the business. It is very important that each and every one of us who cares about our downtown post office write to Mr. Salazar. It can be short and sour, it just has to be in writing. They will be counting the number of letters they receive.
- At the end of the 30-days, a “decision” on the future of Boca’s downtown post office will be made. Mr. Salazar had to admit that a possible decision might be to close the post office.
- The lease issue was not Mr. Salazar’s only credibility problem. The USPS maintains a public list of sites that are being considered for closure. Boca’s downtown post office has been on that list for years. In fact, the Mayor and city officials were successful in their attempt to keep the post office open several years ago. To say this has all come about because the USPS lease is up in July is a bit disingenuous… maybe as disingenuous as them claiming that this is all about relocation and not closure.
- The good news is that today’s public meeting was very well attended, with an overflow crowd at the Community Center Annex. The attendees were quick to register their anger. The bad news is that such a reaction was expected and did not change any USPS minds at the meeting. But maybe that doesn’t matter, because we were repeatedly told that they were not the decision makers. They were just there to start the clock ticking.
The bottom line: today’s meeting was just the opening gambit in the procedural game that’s about to unfold. Boca’s downtown post office is clearly at risk. A decision to close could come as early as May.
What should we be doing about it? First, send a letter to Mr. Salazar expressing your outrage at the possible closure and the process. If they are seriously considering alternative sites, why aren’t we holding public meetings about THAT? Second, urge USPS to work with the current landlord to find a compromise that will keep our 2nd Street station open. Third, send a copy of your letter to Boca’s Congressman Ted Deutch, US House of Representatives, Washington DC. And a copy to each of our US Senators: Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, at the US Senate, Washington, DC. Do this within the next two weeks! Do it today!
The fate of Boca’s downtown post office will ultimately be decided in Washington. If we are to influence that process, we must show that we are united and determined to keep the 2nd Street station open. Boca’s City Council has already passed a non-binding resolution to that effect; we have shown up in force to express our displeasure; organizations such as BocaBeautiful and BocaWatch will be contributing to the lobbying effort in Washington. We need your financial support to carry on this important work.
Thanks to those who attended the CRA meeting on Monday and today’s pro forma session with the US Postal Service bureaucrats. Attending these things is about as much fun as a root canal, but your participation is key to our ability to influence the outcome.
John C. Gore
Several of you have asked for a sample letter to write to the USPS.
Here it is:
Mr. Damian Salazar
Real Estate Specialist
7800 N. Stemmons Freeway, Suite 400
Dallas, TX 75247-4220
Dear Mr. Salazar,
I am writing in strong opposition to USPS’ proposal to close or move Boca Raton’s downtown post office (33432). Downtown Boca is booming, with new construction and the addition of over 2000 new residences and businesses and hotel rooms over the last 5 years. There are 1500 more scheduled for completion in the next three years— all in the 33432 postal code. Our downtown post office is already well utilized and is a center of our downtown community life. With Boca’s downtown expansion, businesses and residents will need it even more.
As you have yet to identify a suitable alternative location, forgive us if we suspect your real objective here is to close our post office, not relocate it. If you do so, you will do a disservice to the 15,000 plus people who live and work in downtown Boca Raton.
Keep our post office open and at its current location!
Copies should be sent to:
- Representative Ted Deutch, 2447 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC 20515
- Senator Bill Nelson, 716 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20002
- Senator Marco Rubio, 284 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC, 20510
Al Zucaro, Publisher
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