Gottheimer criticizes USPS leaders

LAFAYETTE. Congressman promises to work with the House Appropriations Committee to allocate funding for Lafayette to receive a new post office.

| 02 Jun 2024 | 11:12

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-5, called on United States Postal Service (USPS) leadership to uphold its pledge to re-establish a post office in Lafayette on May 28, five years after they suspended operations.

He also announced plans to work directly with his colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee to allocate funding for Lafayette to receive a new post office.

He was joined by Lafayette Mayor Alan Henderson and Deputy Mayor Kevin O’Leary during his visit to the municipal building.

The USPS closed the post office in 2019, citing the aging condition of the building.

The nearest post offices are more than two miles away in Augusta, four miles away in Newton and five miles away in Sparta.

Since the office was closed, Gottheimer and his staff have corresponded with USPS, advocating for a full restoration of service, he said.

USPS repeatedly miscommunicated and delayed plans for the post office, hurting the more than 2,000 Lafayette residents who rely on the postal service to pay their bills, access their medication, and connect with friends and loved ones, he said.

“After years of persistent delays, miscommunications and blatant non-response from leadership at the United States Postal Service, Lafayette, New Jersey is still without a post office. It’s disgraceful that the United States Postal Service has completely blown off this community, and we’re here to state loud and clear that we’ve had enough.

“Let me be clear: I’m incredibly proud of the postal workers who handle and deliver our mail, rain or shine. They work incredibly hard and do yeoman’s work. It’s clear that the rot at USPS is at the top with leaders who are either incapable or unwilling to serve the public.”

USPS’s lack of leadership in Lafayette is indicative of broader problems facing the postal service in New Jersey, the congressman said.

New data from the Office of the Inspector General shows that service in New Jersey has gotten worse during the past year. More than 10 percent of mail is late. Change of address fraud, where criminals can go to a local branch or to USPS’s website and change individuals’ addresses without being asked for ID, jumped by 167 percent from 2020 to 2021. Branches like those in Teaneck face continued reports of theft.

Gottheimer called for transparency, responsiveness and effective leadership from USPS to address those issues.

He said he will offer an amendment to make sure that the USPS is held accountable for its continued disregard of people in northwestern New Jersey and failure to combat fraud and provide timely service to Americans nationwide.

July 2019: USPS says it would suspend operations at Lafayette Post Office because of “... concerns for the aging condition” of the facility. Gottheimer sends letter to Postmaster General Megan Brennan explaining his concerns about the lack of communication regarding this decision, both internally within USPS and externally between USPS and community stakeholders.
April 2022: USPS announces a new location for the Lafayette Post Office.
April 2023: USPS confirms its intent to build on the agreed-upon site in Lafayette by funding architectural plans and sending a lease to the proprietor.
November 2023: Gottheimer’s office requests an update on the site.
December 2023: In response to an email from Gottheimer’s office, USPS blames the delay on a funding modification and says it would take 120 days to finalize the funding process.
April: USPS repeatedly misses deadlines and correspondence from Gottheimer’s office before finally confirming the site was “not viable.”
May: USPS leaders at the federal level meet with Gottheimer’s staff and have not seen documents confirming the Lafayette Post Office plan, provided by USPS’s local leadership. The USPS Government Relations staff decline a follow-up meeting with Gottheimer, saying they have nothing new to share.