By Stephanie Hawkins
The formal process for finding a permanent location for the post office was launched by the post office last month. This process is managed by the post office and will include community input as required by federal law. It addresses the last of three priorities identified by the post office last summer: Find a home for its Cold Spring carriers, find a temporary location for Cold Spring retail services, and finally, find a permanent location for the post office in Cold Spring.
Last fall I asked the post office about work on the lot at the corner of Marion Avenue and Benedict Road behind Foodtown. The post office said it wasn’t ready to launch the formal and federally prescribed process to find a permanent relocation site for the post office, but needed a temporary location for retail services because of its expired lease at Foodtown.
As a result of my inquiry I was invited to join postal office officials and fellow elected officials in discussion to help identify a safe and publicly supported site for its temporary location.
I accepted the invitation. A conference call was scheduled for the day before Thanksgiving.
On Monday before the call, a post office official contacted me with concerns about County Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra’s efforts to exclude me from the discussion, and include instead Paul Guillaro, property developer and owner of the Butterfield property. He said Scuccimarra wanted the call to include only herself, the post office officials, Mayor Ralph Falloon, Barney Molloy, Ed Brancati (Congressman Maloney’s aide) and Paul Guillaro. Scuccimarra wanted no other village officials included.
The post office official said it “didn’t sound right” that any local elected official should be intentionally excluded from the discussion, and that it was “highly inappropriate” to include a property developer. The post office official confirmed that other elected village officials should participate if they were inclined to do so.
I asked the rest of the Village Board to join the call. Trustee Matt Francisco said he would. Trustees Campbell and Hustis declined.
During the call, the post office explained its business needs and possible sites for a temporary retail location.
The post office explained its need to reduce costs and its intentions to maintain retail service in Cold Spring while consolidating carriers and sorting facilities in Garrison. The post office said unequivocally that separating carriers from retail service does not threaten the future of the post office in Cold Spring. (In fact, smaller area requirements for retail-only service mean more flexibility when looking for a permanent location.)
The post office considered three locations for temporary use. The lot behind Foodtown was deemed unworkable for village residents due to vehicular and pedestrian traffic pressures. Butterfield was deemed unworkable for the post office because it was “not adequately developed.” The small parking lot adjacent to the Foodtown building was deemed a workable compromise. This is where the post office’s temporary retail counter currently resides.
Mayor Falloon, Trustee Francisco and I acknowledged the post office’s business needs and agreed the small lot adjacent to Foodtown effectively addressed resident concerns about additional traffic on Marion and Benedict.
Despite the post office’s business needs and business model, Scuccimarra insisted that separation of carriers from retail service was unworkable for the community and that only Butterfield would satisfy the community’s demand for a post office facility, housing carriers and retail. She told the post office they had “negotiated [with her] in bad faith” and pressed them to call Guillaro.
By ignoring the post office’s business needs, insulting the integrity of their representatives, and adopting an all-or-nothing approach to problem solving, Scuccimarra demonstrates an unfortunate willingness to risk an important public amenity in service to private development. That is not public service.
Stephanie Hawkins is a trustee of the Village of Cold Spring.