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COVID woes at Varick P.O. disrupt West Village mail

Problems with West Village postal service lessened last week following two anxious weeks that saw residents going for days at a time without getting mail.

Robert Gottheim, district director for Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, said the issue was with the post office at 201 Varick St., at King St., serving the 10014 zip code. That zip code covers the area bounded by Charlton St., Sixth Ave., Greenwich Ave. and 14th St.

“That post office was hit particularly bad for a while,” Gottheim said. “It’s done and over. They had a number of people sick. A lot of people were out. They have 37 routes — they only had enough people for seven or eight routes.

“They were going to move staff around to make sure the mail was delivered. … They moved people to cover it and people came back who were out sick.”

The Varick St. Post Office told Nadler’s staff that they would encourage local residents to come to the station and pick up their mail themselves, if they liked. But Gottheim said Nadler disapproved of that idea since it goes against social distancing.

As of now, mail delivery in the 10014 zip code has gotten better, though is still a bit sporadic. Sara Kimbell, a member of the Village Independent Democrats club, said she has been getting mail three days a week recently.

She said the post office’s plan of letting people pick up their own mail at Varick St. was not the best solution.

“Neighbors have gone to Varick St., where there are long lines,” she said. “People can only pick up mail for themselves and not their neighbors since IDs are required.”

Gottheim noted that, given the circumstances, the U.S. Postal Service is doing the best it can.

“I live on the Upper West Side, I’m 10024 [zip code],” he said. “I’m getting mail three times a week. We have to be a little understanding.” 

The 10014 zip code saw postal service plummet when the Varick St. Post Office was hit by a wave of workers out sick due to coronavirus.

While Gottheim said he and the rest of Nadler’s district staff are all working from home, they are on their phones and e-mail and fielding questions, concerns and complaints from constituents. Whereas previously they were really hearing it from Villagers concerned about the mail, things have quieted down.

“Today we have not received any complaints,” he said, speaking Friday. “Unscientifically, we know that mail is not an issue anymore because we’re not getting any calls. … It was really bad for a period of time,” he admitted.

Tribeca — which is in a different zip code and is served by the Canal St. post office — did not have similar issues. And Gottheim said the Upper West Side, while it was having some problems with mail delivery, was not anywhere as bad as the 10014 zip code had been. 

As for exactly why the Varick St. P.O. was hit so hard by COVID-19 while other post offices were not, it’s unknown.

“There’s no rhyme or reason,” he said. 

The Nextdoor app reported that a supervisor at the smaller Hudson St. Post Office died from coronavirus. 

But Gottheim could not confirm that, saying, “I haven’t heard that to be true.”

Villagers who read the item on Nextdoor and contacted The Village Sun also said that they could not confirm that information.

The Hudson St. station is more of a retail location, for buying stamps and mailing packages, not the main distribution hub, like Varick St.

However, Marlene Nadle, another V.I.D. member, said rather than just shifting postal workers around to fill gaps, the Postal Service should get reinforcements in the form of temporary workers. 

“The delays will only get worse as the virus spikes and more postal workers get sick,” she said, speaking last week. “The only solution is to hire more temporary workers as they do at Christmas. Trying to borrow workers from other stations hasn’t worked because too many other workers are sick and out of work now.”

The East Village has also been hit by mail problems.

“Mail delivery will be sporadic,” Bonnie Rosenstock said, e-mailing from her phone on March 31. “I’m waiting on a long line at the post office to get my mail. I heard that the post office on 14th St. and First Ave. is closed. Only one worker here at Cooper Station on 11th St. at mail pickup window and only one worker on general retail. It’s a crisis.”

E-mailing back again an hour later, she reported, “I got a package in my mailbox today but there was still leftover mail at the post office from days ago that they didn’t deliver, so I can’t trust them to deliver all my mail, like rent and bank statements.”

4 Comments

  1. Jesse smith Jesse smith April 11, 2020

    I am on hudson between bank and 11th, I have gotten one mail delivery in two weeks, delivery is much worse than “sporadic” I don’t go into groceries so there is zero chance I am going inside Varrick St to pick up any mail but the West Village should not be treated this way

    • Barbara Ruether Barbara Ruether April 13, 2020

      I had also previously written The Sun regarding the lack of mail for about two weeks. In my message, I stated what our mailman had said, he quit because the Varick Street Station was overwhelmed by crowded conditions, boxes, and workers without protection. He was our longtime delivery person for our mail, and we had no reason to doubt what he said. He was beloved by our building’s residents,

      Seeing the The Sun help bring the difficulties with U.S.P.S. regular mail delivery shows the value of local reporting, so vital right now. Please do not drop coverage, as we as a community and nation as well, have to be concerned about the November election. The outcome of this election may well be determined by the health and functioning of the U.S.P.S. Currently, Mr. Trump is refusing to support further financial support of the beleaguered Constitutionally mandated agency. He has already said that if there was a mail-in vote system, he would lose. No wonder he hopes for its demise. Killing the public service of the U.S.P.S. of course has always been on the Republican agenda, aiming to privatize it. Many of us see this as a continuing battle, that now has become critical to maintaining out democracy.

  2. Jojo Jojo April 13, 2020

    I’m in Cooper P.O. district. It seems as if we’re getting mail 2 or 3 times a wk. and I saw our regular deliverer about a week ago. Who knows what the near future holds. I’m in a building of seniors, so it will be particularly a problem for those who cannot make it to the P.O. for pick-up.

  3. Carol Puttre Carol Puttre April 13, 2020

    I’m in the East Village (Cooper Sq. PO) and yes mail every other or every third day. It’s annoying but understandable considering the situation.

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