Marcell Walls rode his bicycle up to the blue mailbox outside the Park Station post office, dropped in a letter, and sped away. It’s a trip Walls often makes, since his grandparents in Baton Rouge, Louisiana mail packages to his post office box a few times a month.
But, starting in May, Walls will have to ride to a different post office. The Postal Service announced on Monday that the Park Station at Sacramento and Russell Streets would close on April 30. All the post office boxes and will be transferred to a post office, Station A, on San Pablo Avenue near Addison.
The news came as a blow to nearby residents who have been trying to stave off this possibility. Ever since the Postal Service put the Park Station on a closure list in the fall of 2009, those living on the south side of town have worked to keep it open. They circulated a petition, wrote letters to the Postmaster General, and met with Congresswoman Barbara Lee to plead their case.
“I am highly disappointed by the decision to close the Park station branch,” said Councilman Darryl Moore, who represents the area and led the fight to preserve the station. “We’re sad to see it go and hope there is something that can be done to save it.”
There are many seniors and disabled people in the area who will find it difficult to travel to a different location, he said.
The closure of the Park Station post office was one of many announced this week, More stations will be closing in Moraga, San Jose, and other parts of the Bay Area, said Gus Ruiz, a postal spokesman. There was no news about other Berkeley post offices that have been threatened with closure, including the one on Solano Avenue and the one on Adeline.
“We have declining volume to the point where it affects our revenue base,” said Ruiz. “What we’re seeing also is people have changed their shopping patterns. Thirty percent of our revenue now comes from on-line services.”
As fewer and fewer people actually walk into a post office, the postal service is shifting its business model to include more self-service kiosks in both stations and places like Office Depot, said Ruiz. People can now buy stamps lots of places, including ATM machines and big box retailers like Costco.
“We don’t need as many brick and mortal offices,” he said.
The postal service decided to shutter underutilized spaces, said Ruiz. There are no postal carriers working out of the Park Station and it is basically a small-time retailer with one agent.
Walls said he enjoys his regular trips to the Park Station, which is located a few blocks from his home. It won’t be as easy now to pick up his mail.
“It’s going to be a big inconvenience,” said Walls. “I will have to go to the main office on Allston and it’s out of my way.”