June 4, 2011
KWTX TV reports that more than 70 residents of the town of Leroy, Texas, turned out for a meeting to support their post office. They signed petitions and were encouraged to write letters to their lawmakers. “If the post office closes, a centrally located box known as a Neighborhood Delivery Box and Collection Unit or NDCBU will be installed.” Several other rural post offices in central Texas —Purmela, Prairie Hill, Reagan and Avalon—are also on the closure list.
News Channel 34 in Binghamton, New York, reports that “residents and city officials are making a last ditch effort to convince the US Postal Service not to close 3 neighborhood post offices in the city.” That would leave only the downtown office open. City Council Member Teri Rennia says the West Side has a higher population of elderly and low-income residents who have a difficult time getting downtown. "A walkable community is incredibly important for environmental reasons, for economic reasons and also to make sure folks who don't have access to transportation still have equal access to these basic services." Watch the video.
NV Daily reports that the town of Star Tannery, Virginia, had a community meeting to tell USPS officials that it was wrong to close their post office. More than 65 people attended, and they’ve started a letter writing campaign to their lawmakers. The sixty-day comment periods ends June 20. The nearest post office is 11 miles away. Local politician Dennis Morris attended the meeting: “"It's convenience and it's tradition," he said. "They want to keep their identity back there."
Eleven New Mexico post offices are on the chopping block, reports KRQE News 13. "This may sound old fashioned and silly,” said Shelley Rains, a resident of the town of Holman, NM, in the northeastern part of the state. “We’re a community, and a community always has a post office. It’s a center.” The other communities that might lose their post offices are Capulin, Cuervo, Coyote, Encino, Gladstone, La Loma, Saint Vrain, Trementina, Mills, and Fort Stanton. “Maybe our opinions, our enthusiasm, our need will make a difference,” Rains said. “Maybe it won’t. But if you do not fight, you can never win.” (Watch the video, and check out the Save Our Post Office website Holman citizens have put together.)
The post office in downtown Canton, Georgia, will close, reports the Cherokee Tribune.
“Canton Mayor Gene Hobgood lamented the news. . . . Retaining the post office’s presence downtown, he said, is ‘vital’ to the city’s efforts to reenergize the central business district.”
The City Council in Waterville, Ohio, unanimously approved a resolution requesting the U.S. Postal Service to maintain a full service post office in the city, reports the Toledo Blade. Two weeks ago the postal service said a temporary emergency suspension would close the city's post office and operations would be shifted to the Maumee Post Office. The postal service was unable to reach a lease agreement with the owner of the building on South Third Street in the community's downtown business district, where the post office has been housed for fifty years. Mayor Derek Merrin said that a lease had been signed, so the closing has been averted, at least for now.
June 2, 2011
It can take months for the USPS to go through the bureaucratic process of closing a post office, but under the law's provision for an "emergency suspension," the USPS can shutter a post office in as little as 24 hours. According to the Postal Operations Manual (download pdf), these suspensions are supposed to be temporary closings for unusual circumstances—a natural disaster, a lease termination when other suitable quarters are not available, lack of qualified personnel to run the post office, a severe health or safety hazard in the work environment, and severe damage to the postal building. If past history is any indication, a post office closed for an emergency suspension will probably never re-open. Here are a few of the stories in the news.
In Nooksack, Washington, the post office was closed for retail business on Friday, May 27, and p.o. boxes moved to another post office over the Memorial Day weekend. According to the The Bellangham Herald, Postal Service spokeman Ernie Swanson explained that this was an “emergency suspension” because the lease for the building was up at the end of May. The Postal Service will gather input from citizens through mid-July, and “officials in Seattle will make a recommendation to Postal Service headquarters on whether to renew the lease on the building or keep the location closed.”
In Calumet, Pennsylvania, on May 31, residents were given 48 hours notice that the Postal Service was closing the post office as an “emergency suspension” because of “unspecified building problems that could jeopardize the safety of employees,” reports Trib Live. The owner of the building is the Calumet Volunteer Fire Department. Residents will need to change their addresses and seek boxes at other post offices or install mailboxes at their homes.
On Monday, May 9, residents of Coatsburg, Illinois, were given 24-hours notice that their post office was closing because of a “lack of qualified personnel to operate this office.” According to the Quincy News, the post office was being operated by an Officer in Charge rather than a regular postmaster, and this person took another job on short notice. Valerie Welsch, spokesperson with the Postal Service, explained, “We couldn’t give a huge notice because we just didn’t have anyone to fill in there, it is an emergency suspension of services.” The Coatsburg post office was already on the closure list announced earlier in the spring, and public hearings had taken place. “This emergency suspension had nothing to do with that study,” said Welsch.
In Caledonia, New York, near Buffalo, representatives of the Postal Service met last week with residents to discuss the “emergency suspension” of their post office that took back in November 2010 when the USPS was unable to secure a renewal of the lease. As reported in the Livingston County News, people aren't buying the lease story. They pointed to several vacant buildings in the business district and asked if the USPS had considered them. The mayor of the town produced an email letter from the owner of the building stating that he tried to negotiate an equitable agreement with the USPS and that his company even offered to lower the rent in an effort to keep the post office in the property.
The post office in Tariffville, Connecticut, was closed back in January for an emergency suspension because of concerns about the structural integrity of the building after heavy snowfall forced an evacuation. The building has housed the post office for more than fifty years (photo at the top). As the Simsbury Patch reported, shortly after the suspension, the company that manages the building said that the problems had been repaired and the post office should be open for business “tomorrow”—that was over four months ago. Citizens complained to the Postal Service that the building was declared safe after just two days and other tenants returned, but the USPS had "quickly removed the PO boxes and office equipment instead of returning." A study is now underway to determine whether or not the post office should be "continued."
May 29, 2011
The post office in Norwich, Connecticut, was built in 1905. An addition was built by the New Deal in 1938, and the post office was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. It contains a mural, "Taking Up Arms - 1776," painted in 1940 by George Kanelous, who was such a perfectionist he’d paint over his own paintings and consequently left a relatively small body of work.
According to The Day, James A. Hickey Jr., a Postal Service real estate specialist, told city officials that the building could be placed on the market within the next 60 days. The Postal Service would consider providing for the downtown “with a so-called contract postal unit, a small station run by a private business owner to sell stamps and hold post office boxes.”
City officials have enlisted assistance from the state congressional delegation Monday in the fight to save the post office. But The Day reports, “Norwich might not get a full hearing on their arguments. Because the Postal Service considered it merely a transition from one Norwich facility into another, the city was not given any input or a public hearing ahead of time on the decision.” Watch a TV news spot on the fate of the post office.
May 29, 2011
At the geographical center of Danbury, Connecticut, is the Main Street Historic District. It has 97 buildings of historic and architectural significance, and two of them are post offices—the Old Post Office (1876) at 258 Main Street, now home to a financial group, and the current post office at 265 Main Street. A two-story brick Georgian Revival building with a limestone marble and stained oak interior, it was designed in 1916 by Oscar Wenderoth, director of the Office of the Supervising Architect, an agency of the United States Treasury Department that designed federal government buildings. The four wards of Danbury met at a point in the middle of the street directly in front of the post office, so it was literally at the center of town.
As Danbury’s Main Street blog told the story back in 2008, all mail processing operations moved to another facility in 2007, thus reducing the Main St post office to a retail operation. So it came as no surprise that the USPS was considering closing the post office completely. The proposal met with fierce opposition, and residents succeeded in killing the closing.
“It's like Groundhog Day all over again,” now writes the Hat City Blog. The location on Main Street is back on the chopping block, and residents are speaking out in opposition again.
As the Danbury Patch reported on May 5, “About 80 people harangued U.S. Postal Service decision-makers in Danbury City Hall Wednesday in an effort to save the Main Street Post Office.” Local politicians have also weighed in their support for keeping the post office open. But the future of this historic post office doesn't look good. After all, there's another place to do your post office business a few blocks away, at the One-Stop Gift Shop.
May 27, 2011
The Old Town of Pass-a-Grille is an officially designated historic district located in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida. The district contains 97 buildings, and at its center is Eighth Avenue, a one-block stretch between the gulf and the bay. In the 1940s, Ripley's Believe it or Not deemed Eighth Avenue the smallest main street in America.
Pass-a-Grille has had a post office for over a century, and it’s been on Eighth Avenue since the 40s. The post office was slated to be closed in 2009, but residents rallied and the post office was temporarily spared. According to the St. Petersburg Times, residents learned a couple of weeks ago that it will be closing on June 17.
“Everyone picks up their mail there," said Nancy Shannon, a longtime Pass-a-Grille resident. "I've been living here for over 50 years. I came down as a bride-to-be from New York. Ever since then, I've bought my packages and stamps there. It is a core community place. After 2009, we thought the issue had been laid to rest. We were lulled into thinking that everything was okay."
As the St. Pete Times describes it, the Pass-a-Grille post office is very small, with room for just a few customers at a time. It's the kind of place where they keep gum drops on the counter for the kids and dog biscuits behind it. The post office is a local magnet, said one resident, and "how we keep in touch with all the people that live out here." Another added, "It would be kind of crazy to think of this place without a post office."
UPDATE: June 17, 2011: The post office closed on Friday, June 17, 2011. The St. Petersburg Times has an beautiful piece by Leonora LaPeter Anton, "Tearful locals bid farewell to tiny, historic Pass-a-Grille post office."