Van Wyck likely to keep post office

The latest postal proposal has Van Wyck keeping its post office, but at reduced hours beginning next year.

Brian White, a Charlotte-based supervisor with the U.S. Postal Service, said the 50 or so people Wednesday were the most he’d ever seen turn out at a meeting to discuss service changes at a local post office. Resident Jane Massey gave a simple explanation.

“It is our identity,” she said.

The crowd Wednesday moved from the local post office to a nearby community center to accommodate numbers. Residents presented postal workers with a petition of 230 names, many unable to attend the mid-day meeting, calling for no changes at the post office.

“It’s a hidden (gem), but nobody knows about it,” resident Jay Himelstein said about the post office, which is literally at the center of Van Wyck life.

Residents say their location in Van Wyck falls within a hodgepodge of service areas. Some services come from Lancaster County, others nearer the Fort Mill area. The post office and zip code are identifiers for Van Wyck, they said.

White told residents they needn’t worry about the post office leaving.

“We’re not taking out the post office,” he said. “What we’re doing is we’re reducing the hours of operation.”

Annual evaluations show how much work comes through stations and how many employee hours are needed for it. The Van Wyck department runs 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m., then 2-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. White said the department can operate 12:30-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and meet demand. Those hours likely will start Jan. 10.

“This is where things will change,” he said.

The postmaster could take another postmaster position, another supervisor job elsewhere or take an early incentive to retire, White said. It’s possible the postmaster could take the early retirement incentive and still come back for the part-time work.

“She would have options,” White said.

Residents didn’t want the changed hours, but were thankful the department isn’t leaving completely. They wanted to know if hours would be extended for holidays, and what options there might be for workers unable to stop in during the four-hour window.

“There’s no provision for working people,” said Christine Williams.

Some said it seemed there is plenty of mail coming through Van Wyck to keep the current hours.

“I know I go in there often and (the postmaster) is just packed up with work to do,” said resident Cathy Madden.

White did commit to looking into other concerns, like a lack of air conditioning and flooring in need of replacement at the post office. Residents also wanted a paved parking lot and parcel box keys, which White called possibilities.

White’s plan wouldn’t change P.O. boxes, collection boxes or postmarks. He said it hadn’t been finalized, but the remaining choices wouldn’t suit post office and community needs.

“If we don’t go with reduced hours, there are only two ways to go,” White said. “You either leave it the same way it is now, or you close it.”