The spotty Internet service at the Kew Gardens Hills post office on Main Street in the past month confirms what many local residents have experienced for years. “I’m not worried about money orders personally, it’s just one of many transactions and services they are unable to provide as a result of this incompetence,” Ephraim Shapiro commented.
A longtime resident of Kew Gardens Hills, he’s seen the handwritten note on the entrance to this branch, noting that without Internet service, credit card transactions cannot be conducted. “It’s beyond unacceptable,” he wrote.
At the same time that this branch is having connectivity issues, the national postal service has been the subject of scrutiny regarding its ability to process mail-in ballots ahead of this year’s presidential election, and the budget cuts proposed this summer by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, an ally of President Donald Trump. These included curtailing late deliveries and the removal of nearly 700 mail-sorting machines across the nation.
Last month, Rep. Grace Meng voted in support of the Delivering for America Act, which seeks to provide the postal service with $25 billion in critical funding and seeks to maintain the level of service that preceded the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. “I have no confidence that Mr. DeJoy merely wants to make improvements to the postal service, especially during a national health crisis,” she said in her remarks on the bill. “Postal Service operations must return to what they were at the beginning of the year. The House-passed Delivering for America Act does this and provides critical funding for its operations.”
The bill passed the House along partisan lines and it is not expected to succeed in the Senate, where the Republicans have the majority of seats.
On the neighborhood level, the funding that Rep. Meng can secure for postal services on account of her position as a member of the House Appropriations Committee should focus on specific concerns. Besides Internet connectivity, why doesn’t this post office have a vending machine? For simple matters such as buying postage stamps and weighing a package, having a machine can save customers from the long wait in line. During a pandemic, when social distancing is the key to prevention, a vending machine can make a significant impact on reducing the number of people inside the Kew Gardens Hills branch.
Looking back at a longer timeline, one can understand why this branch does not appear to receive its fair share. For much of its existence, the neighborhood and its branch were regarded as part of Flushing, and like the Pomonok post office a mile to the east, the one on Main Street served as an auxiliary branch. In 1998, Rep. Gary Ackerman succeeded in having 11367 addressed in correspondences as Kew Gardens Hills, rather than as Flushing, although both names can be used for mail in this neighborhood.
A neighborhood’s identity, however, is more than about its name appearing on envelopes, the library branch, and the post office branch. It should also concern uninterrupted Internet service. Installing a working router and a vending machine should not be a difficult task for the postal service. As Rep. Meng has addressed the need to restore mailboxes and sorting machines that were removed, her voice is vital in ensuring that the Kew Gardens Hills branch provides full service to its customers.
By Sergey Kadinsky