Marcell Wells regularly rides his bike to the post office. Photo:Frances Dinkelspiel

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.”

Frances Dinkelspiel

Frances Dinkelspiel (co-founder) is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California,...

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14 Comments

  1. Except when you ask to see the different kinds of stamps they have and they tell you that all of their stamps will mail a letter. Rude and unpleasant.

  2. Upon closure what will be placed there? Another empty space slowing rotting away? Another Barber Shop? A Liquor Store? None of those instant decisions would surprise me.

  3. That was a great idea until someone had poured urine though the slot and onto the mail, another a person threw up in it. Both incidents happened in the same month at the same box.

  4. Go to the one located at 3175 Adeline, it’ rarely busy. Likely will be up for closure next.

  5. About fifteen years ago I was walking our dog past this post office. It was a little before 9:00am and a man in a postal uniform unlocked the front door came outside and bought some crack from a dealer on the corner and went back inside.

  6. We used to live a few blocks from this station in the 1980’s and ’90s and found it very convenient. It was convenient because it was rarely crowded. Not a good sign back then. Certainly not good at all now.

    I hope that the Post Office will consider some innovations to serve the populace who have difficulty traveling even slightly longer distances. The US Mail is the default mailing service and in the case of some types of mail, the legally required one.

    One thought that comes to mind is the possibilty of having mobile post offices which make regular weekly stops. This would be something like the library bookmobile. The “mail mobile” might make regular stops at senior centers and other community locations to sell stamps, accept packages, sell money orders and the like.

    If we can buy cupcakes from a mobile truck, why shouldn’t we be able to buy mail services the same way?

  7. Darn it, this was the one closest to my house too, and the one downtown tends to have crazy long lines which will get longer now.

  8. Just because this station is being closed doesn’t mean the collection box has to be removed. In the past is has been customary to leave collection boxes when stations were closed or relocated. The community could possibly persuade the Berkeley postmaster on this point.

  9. I would like to know why none of the post offices in Berkeley have automated machines for stamps or mailing packages. The San Pablo Ave. branch took out their automated machines there a year or two ago, making the expereinced of using that branch qyuite ineffcient.