by: Cierra Duncan
Concerned citizens and community leaders are rallying to save the Southmore Station post office located at 4110 Almeda.
The facility is one of six post offices in Houston being considered for closure or relocation. Supporters contend that closing it would inconvenience residents, especially the elderly and the disabled. The post office also has historical significance and was the site of Houston’s first sit-in in 1960.
Wayne Mitchell, the Houston UPS district manager, said the proposed changes are due to financial difficulty.
“We have to be able to have financials in order to support our operations,” he said. “We cannot tell our people who have invested their lives and career into the organization that they no longer have jobs because we can’t make the bottom line.”
Sandra Rybicki, a real estate specialist for USPS facilities, said the post office will not be closing in entirety. If chosen, the current location would consolidate some daily operations with another location and find replacement facilities for the remaining retail presence.
“The bottom line would be right-sizing the operation,” she said. “It’s not economical to maintain that facility with all that excess space.”
Post office employees offered their own solutions to keeping the building open. Brady D. Randall, a 35-year postal service employee, recommended expanding hours of operation.
Some supporters also expressed concern about lack of communication between Houston City Council and its residents. Until a City Council meeting last month, many residents were unaware of the possible changes being made to the Southmore station.
“We expect our elected officials to fight for us,” said Kofi Taharka, national chairperson for the National Black United Front. “A business that has the ability to touch every household in our community and you mean to tell me that we couldn’t find out about the potential of it being closed? We have a trust issue here.”
Congressman Sheila Jackson Lee, who organized a town hall meeting to address the issue, wants the facility to stay open.
“I think the tragedy is that the Postal Service itself didn’t do the research it needed to do,” Jackson Lee said.
Congressman Al Green sent a letter to the postmaster general asking that the facility remain open.
“I understand that the Postal Service has difficult decisions ahead of it due to financial problems that they continue to face,” Green said.
“However, I ask that the historic importance of this post office, where the first sit-in demonstration in Houston occurred in 1960, be considered to a greater extent along with other factors before any decision to close or relocate this post office is carried out.”
The above article was published in Volume 83, Number 11 (January 16, 2014) of the Defender newspaper in Houston, TX.
The online version is available at http://issuu.com/defendermediagroup/docs/01.16.2014_e-full