Gary May Lose Three Post-Offices | WBEZ
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Eight Forty-Eight

Gary May Lose Three Post-Offices

Twenty billion. That's a lot. We're not talking about dollars here. It's 20 billion fewer pieces of mail that will be handled by the U.S. Postal Service this year. And that means the Postal Service is thinking of closing some 400 branches by next year to save money. Chicago may lose some, but in much smaller Gary, Indiana, the city could lose nearly half of its seven locations. It's got some folks in Gary crying, hey wait a minute Mr. Post Man!

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Fadel Abdelrazzaq places a letter inside the mail box outside the Brunswick station post office on Gary's far West Side on 5th Avenue.

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The 25-year-old runs a grocery store right next door to the post office. He says he uses its services quite frequently.

But this is one of the Gary branches tentatively slated for closing.

ABDELRAZZAQ: We opened up a story right here and I thought this was going to be real convenient for us you know. I don't think it's a good idea for them to close it down.

The Brunswick station is one of three post office branches in Gary that's on a list for possible closure.

In Chicago, another four are slated to be closed. Email is hurting the postal service. And so is the economy now.

Large corporations such as car companies and financial institutions are doing less mass mailing during the downturn.

Officials with the Postal Service say it's already trimmed some $6-billion in costs this year, but that's still not enough to offset losses.

Closing branches won't mean personnel savings.

The head of the postal workers union in Gary, Ben Barnes, says under the union contract workers can't be fired, so they'll be transferred.

Kim Yates is the spokeswoman for the postal service in Indiana.

YATES: We are trying to realign our work force and put the employees where the mail is. Right now, we have more employees in more facilities than we have mail to work.

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If Gary loses three branches some residents, like Mary Porter, will have to travel a few extra miles to get to their mail.

PORTER: We're senior citizens you know that lives in this area. I definitely believe it would bring a hardship on us in mailing out the mail and also receiving it. I don't know where we would go?

For the past 40 years, Mrs. Porter has kept a post office box at the Miller station post office off Lake Street. She feels the post office box is more secure than having mail delivered.

PORTER: I feel like it's safer. I get a check every month. I wouldn't have as far to go.

Now her local branch may be shut down.

PORTER: Bad weather, winter is coming. Sometimes we just can't make it that far. This one is the closest we have to us in this area. There's no other one.

GRAY: Believe me this is a very much needed post office. The personnel that works here are very, very courteous with the peoples.

Vietnam Vet James Gray picks up his medicines at the same Miller branch each week.

GRAY: If they shut this post office down, it would a great loss, not only to this city. It would be a great loss. It really would. 

Gary's mayor Rudy Clay isn't too happy about it either. Clay knows it will lead to more shuttered buildings in a city that's already struggling economically. Clay's still hoping the Postal Service will change its plans.

CLAY: We've known about for a few weeks now but there were six post offices slated for being closed should I say. I understand now it's down to three. They went from six to three and hopefully it will go from three to zero.
Gary's main post office at 15th and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive will stay open, as will three other branches in the city.

Postal Service spokeswoman Kim Yates says Friday begins the Postal Service's new fiscal year.

Any decisions to consolidate facilities will happen sometime after that. Yates says customers at the affected branches will be notified, and Gary residents will be given an opportunity to voice their objections.

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