Today’s news:

Kew Gardens P.O. gets lease renewed

A Queens landlord and the federal government have reached an agreement that allows the Kew Gardens Post Office to remain open following years of concerns that it would close, U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) said last week.

The U.S. Postal Service and Tulip Management, the landlord of the building at 83-30 Austin St., signed a lease last week after Weiner said he helped to broker an agreement between the two.

“Losing this post office would have been disastrous for the community,” Weiner said. “No neighborhood should be forced to live without such a vital service, and I’m pleased that everyone involved in this process understood that. While four months was a long time to wait to finally have a signed lease, it is still very good news.”

Since 2008 Weiner, the Postal Service, and community leaders have been working to reach an agreement to extend the lease so the neighborhood’s sole post office would not be shuttered. A five-year lease was signed in 2006 that included three guaranteed years and an option to extend the lease an additional two years to 2011. Residents had been concerned that the landlord would not renew the lease when there was no news about negotiations after the 2011 extension was agreed upon.

Kew Gardens Civic Association Executive Chairman Murray Berger said community activists had worked hard with Weiner and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to ensure their post office would remain at its Austin Street site.

“We started to apply pressure two years ago on Anthony Weiner and Chuck Schumer to get the government to buy the property and put an end to all the overhanging fear that every time the lease expired we didn’t know what would happen,” Berger said in a previous interview. “Because of the economic downfall, purchasing the property for the post office in the postal service’s desperate condition was out of the question.”

Instead, Weiner and Schumer wrote letters in March 2009 to the federal postmaster general, asking that he make sure the Kew Gardens Post Office remain open. If the Kew Gardens facility had closed, customers would have had to travel to Forest Hills or Briarwood to the nearest post office, a difficult feat for many of the elderly residents who routinely walk to the Kew Gardens spot, Berger said.

“We have a lot of old people who can’t walk to those places,” said Berger, who has lived in Kew Gardens for more than 50 years. “It’s in an ideal location because it’s surrounded by apartments. It’s got a big business in the passport division because people in Kew Gardens have a lot of ties overseas.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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