Zeldin Is Asked to Fix Montauk Mail Delivery

‘I feel sorry for the workers there. . . . They’re so overloaded,’ one patron says

A group of Montauk residents who are weary and fed up with the persistent mail and package delivery problems that have plagued the hamlet for two years reached out to Representative Lee Zeldin last week, hoping he could accomplish the corrective action they have been unable to effect themselves. On Tuesday, Mr. Zeldin promised to look into the matter.

Sally Ann Stork, a Montauk resident, was one of the first disgruntled mail customers who contacted Mr. Zeldin’s office last week with a formal complaint. Other Montaukers, including Wayne Schoenbrun and Melissa Berman, said they also sought to speak with his staff this week to ask for an investigation. Like them, numerous residents have told The Star that calls to the Montauk postmaster and personal visits to the branch have gone for naught.

“We’ve attempted to work with the local office over and over to no avail — that’s a nonstarter,” Mr. Schoenbrun said. “Now we need to go up the chain. We’re not blaming the individuals in the office. Any of them. They’re dealt a hand. That said, the problem still exists, and if they can’t fix it, we’ve got to go higher. Because it’s been pretty bad here for a while.”

Some residents say they get mail deliveries three or four out of the possible six days a week. Others say mail and packages go missing, mail is routinely delivered late in the evening or to the wrong address, and packages arrive late or damaged, if at all. 

Ms. Berman, who works in advertising, said she gets notifications that packages have arrived but often has to visit the post office two or three times before they are located. “They tell me they haven’t had time to sort the packages yet,” she said. Businesspeople in Montauk say they have not gotten time-sensitive payments or merchandise on time. Folks with medical issues also report not getting expected deliveries on schedule.

“When I heard some people weren’t getting their medication, that’s when I really thought ‘This needs to be fixed already — imagine the stress on those people,’ ” Ms. Berman said. “The problems are the talk of the town when you’re in line at the post office. In the summer, it really spiraled out of control. But it’s still bad,” she said. “I feel sorry for the workers there sometimes. You literally want to just jump over the counter and give them a hug. They’re so overloaded.”

Ms. Berman, like many Montauk residents, traces the delivery problems to the Postal Service’s agreeing to make Amazon deliveries a couple of years ago. As a result, Montauk simply doesn’t have the space or staffing to handle the added volume and work, and the retirement of four veteran postal workers also hurt. The Montauk office has had three new postmasters in the last year as well.

 Richard Brown, a retired mail carrier, said in an interview last week that the branch is short-staffed and new staffers are not adequately trained. 

“They’re thrown to the wolves,” he said.

“That just goes to show you the dysfunction,” Ms. Stork said. She said she took it upon herself to try to contact Mr. Zeldin last week because she was tired of the problems. In her opinion, politicians “very rarely come out here” unless “it’s to put up ‘I love New York’ signs.”

“So people should call them. Email. Fax letters back,” Ms. Stork said. “It does help.”

The statement Mr. Zeldin issued on Tuesday read: “The U.S. Postal Service provides a vital service to Long Islanders, especially those who live in less accessible areas, such as Montauk, that cannot rely as much on private shipping and postal companies. My office will be meeting with the U.S.P.S. Long Island regional office to ensure all of my constituents are receiving the postal services they need.”

Katie Vincentz, a member of Mr. Zeldin’s staff, stressed via email that Mr. Zeldin’s office had been contacted for the first time on this issue “less than a week ago.” She added that Mr. Zeldin’s constituents can contact the congressman’s district office in Patchogue, 631-289-1097, or East End office in Riverhead, 631-209-4235, and if they’re requesting that the congressman reach out to a federal agency such as the Postal Service, they can start the process by filling out a Privacy Release Form. 

The form and details about the process can be found online at zeldin.house.gov/services/help-with-a-federal-agency. William Doyle is Mr. Zeldin’s director of constituent services.