UPDATED: A U.S. Postal Service study on whether the Village Center Station post office would be among almost 4,000 postal centers that may be closed will take several months to complete, with no definite time frame available at this point, a USPS spokesman said on Monday.
When the study is begun, surveys will be mailed to every residential, business and post office box customer served by the Village Center Station, said George B. Flood, corporate communication manager for the USPS northeast area, based in Newark. Input will be collected from the public in other ways, he added.
For now, it's business as usual at the Village Center Station post office at 566 Allen Road in The Hills development. In fact, some of those visiting the postal center or walking nearby a few days after the USPS announced in late July that it is paring down its 32,000 offices nationwide didn't even know that the Village Center Station was among the sites being considered for
"We have only announced the intent to study," Flood said in an email on Monday morning. A closer study on the majority of the nearly 3,700 post offices that face possible closure — including the Village Station — have not yet begun, Flood said.
He said the timing of the process will depend on when the study can be started, the complexity of the research, availability of specific information from the community and extraordinary local factors.
Those special factors can include the legal dedication of some offices to fallen heroes, having the buildings on the federal registers of historic places or similar issues. These extraordinary-type factors could complicate a study and the timing, Flood said in the email
Along with the surveys to be mailed out, the surveys also will be available on the counter of the lobby in the Village Center Station, for members of the public to take home and complete, Flood said.
The post office's strategy of reaching out to increase public awareness of the survey and to maximize community input could include a poster on the lobby, letters to local community leaders and continued press releases to local media, Flood said.
There were mixed reactions from those asked to comment last Thursday in an informal survey of post office users and others in the area of the Village Center facility.
"I don't care," said Meghan Brody, who said she is a resident of The Hills, which fans off both sides of Allen Road with townhome and single family neighborhoods. Brody said she never really uses that post office. "They deliver the mail, and that's about it," she said.
On the other hand, Hills resident Hannah Kluger, who said she runs her business from home, and rents a post office box at the Hills post office, said she would consider the loss of the local post office to be a major inconvenience.
Kluger said the post office is very busy at certain times—as is the primary Basking Ridge post office, located at 21 Brownlee Place in downtown Basking Ridge.
Kluger wondered why the post office closure is being considered. "There are thousands of people here," she said.
A press release issued on the day the possible post office closings were announced noted that in many cases email is replacing paper mail, among the reasons post offices are apparently less used. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in a news release, "The Postal Service of the future will be smaller, leaner and more competitive and it will continue to drive commerce, serve communities and deliver value."
Bernards Township now has three post offices. The Village Center Station and the downtown Basking Ridge post office in downtown Basking Ridge both have a zip code of 07920.
Another post office at 8 Church St. in Liberty Corner has a zip code of 07938, and all of those served by that postal center must maintain a post office box.
According to an employee at the Village Center post office, if that office closes, residents from The Hills would be assigned to pick up certified packages, hold their mail and receive similar services through the downtown Basking Ridge post office. That post office is about seven miles, and sometimes a 15-minute drive, from The Hills post office.
Lakshmi Sabsan also knew little about the potential closing. She said she had heard the news on television, but didn't know that The Hills post office was on the list of those that may be closed.
"I don't want it closed," she said, as she waited near The Hills main swimming pool off Hansom Road. She said she uses the local post office to buy stamps and for other services.
A young employee at the pool said he hadn't even been aware there was a post office at the shopping center.
Someone who said he uses the center—but is not too concerned about it closing—is John Makover, who lives in a section of Bedminster that is closer to the center of The Hills in Basking Ridge than to the Pluckemin post office in Bedminter off Route 206.
"It would be a little inconvenient," he said. But if it happens, he said he will just use the Pluckemin postal facility.