The United States Postal Service (USPS) has identified, as of July 28, nearly 700 of its post offices nationwide that are under what the USPS calls “review,” which is one step away from closure.
USPS vice president Jordan Small told a House subcommittee Aug. 5 that the move is in response to an expected $7-billion loss for the agency this fiscal year. Raising stamp prices and cutting costs, Small told representatives, has not been enough to stem the tide of decreased demand. Small said the USPS could eventually place more than 3,000 of its branches under review, but that no major changes would take place before October.
The only Mississippi post office on the list is the Candlestick Park branch in South Jackson.
Its presence on the soon-to-be-condemned list is not sitting will with the president of the area’s largest neighborhood association.
“I’m upset about it,” said Genny Seeley, of the Association of South Jackson Neighborhoods. “There’s 30,000 people just in Ward 6. The only post office this will leave us is the one towards Metrocenter, which is not at all centrally located. That’s not really on the way to anywhere.”
Details of when the branches targeted would close were unclear last week. It was also unknown how many jobs at Candlestick would be lost. A USPS spokeswoman had not returned several phone calls and e-mails seeking comment by the time the Mississippi Business Journal went to press Thursday afternoon.
“It’s an inconvenience to us, and I’m sure it will be an inconvenience to a lot of people,” Seeley said. “Highway 80 (where Metrocenter sits) is located more conveniently for businesses, but not residents.”
If the Candlestick Park branch closes, the remaining post offices in South Jackson would all lay on the western edge of the area. Residents of neighborhoods that sit between Raymond Road and I-55 would have to travel several miles either North or West to reach a post office.
South Jackson residents have long felt they have gotten the short end of the stick in terms of growth and development when compared with other areas of the city. The shopping center at the intersection of County Line Road and I-55 in North Jackson, which features Target and Home Depot, should have been erected in South Jackson, residents believe. Instead, South Jackson has seen its residential and retail developments dry up as businesses and people left. That the only branch in all of Mississippi currently on the closure list is in South Jackson is further evidence that South Jackson has been left behind, Seeley said.
Last week, Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson announced a $500,000 federal grant that would pay for a study to search for ways to revitalize Metrocenter and the U.S. 80 business corridor, which has seen the bulk of abandonment and once was the most developed area in all of Jackson.
“How many post offices are in Northeast Jackson? How many post offices are in Fondren and Belhaven? That hits a nerve with people in South Jackson, that we’re being slighted,” Seeley said. “Is that one doing so much less than everybody else? I would question that. That sounds fishy to me.
“(The USPS) is claiming they’re losing money so they have to close (Candlestick Park). Maybe they need to change something within the service.”
The Candlestick Park branch had a fairly steady stream of lunchtime traffic Thursday afternoon. Lillian Mitchell was using her lunch hour to clear her P.O. box of a couple days’ worth of mail.
“So does this mean I’m going to have to change my address so I can get my bills?” she asked when a Mississippi Business Journal reporter told her the office was on a target list for closure. “I don’t see how that makes any sense. A lot of people depend on this place. I hope it somehow stays open.”
The news had reached Ward 6 Councilman Tony Yarber, whose ward encompasses the majority of South Jackson, about 24 hours before Mitchell dropped in to check her mail.
“It’s going to be a huge inconvenience for us,” Yarber said. “One of the biggest things I’m displeased with is the abruptness of it all. I really didn’t have any opportunity to do any research on it until (Wednesday) evening and (Thursday) morning. We’re just trying to brace for the shock. I guess it just speaks to where we are in terms of the economy. They’re trying to find their way.
“We’ll have to put our heads together at City Hall to see what we can do.”
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