To Be Discontinued: The Postal Service identifies 170 suspended post offices for permanent closure

Steve HutkinsBlog, Featured

Earlier this week the Postal Service shared a list with the Postal Regulatory Commission identifying 170 post offices that were “temporarily” suspended several years ago and that will soon be closed permanently.

The list was submitted as part of the PRC’s Public Inquiry into what can be done to push the Postal Service to clear up a backlog of over 400 long-standing, unresolved emergency suspensions.

 

In its filing with the PRC, the Postal Service explains that the effort to resolve these suspensions has been hampered by the pandemic and organization changes made in 2020, but it is now prepared to proceed. The Postal Service says it has “identified 170 sites that qualify for swift official Discontinuance,” and it plans to complete this project by the end of September 2022.

Not that there has been anything “swift” about the discontinuance process on these post offices. Six of the suspensions occurred more than 20 years ago, 63 occurred more than 10 years ago, and with a couple of exceptions, they all occurred at least five years ago.

When an emergency suspension first take place, whether it’s due to a problem renewing the lease (the most common cause), unsafe conditions or damage to the building, the Postal Service almost always reassures the community that the closure is only “temporary.”

After a suspension occurs, the Postal Service is required to reopen the office by fixing the problem that led to the suspension (relocating if necessary), or it can decide that the suspension is a reason to initiate a discontinuance process.

The law doesn’t put a time limit on this process, so the Postal Service can start the discontinuance process by posting a proposal to close and perhaps proceeding to the required public meeting and circulating the customer questionnaires, and then put the process on hold. There’s currently a backlog of 425 unresolved suspensions. A few of these offices may be reopened, but most are headed for discontinuance.

For 32 of the 170 offices now slated for discontinuance, the Postal Service has completed 29 of the 30 steps in the process, and all that remains is publishing a notification in Postal Bulletin. For the other 138, the Postal Service hasn’t made a final decision (although it’s clear what that decision will be), so the final determination notice has not yet been posted.

The notice contains a paragraph at the end explaining that customers have 30 days to file an appeal with the PRC. Normally this notice would be made available for inspection at the post office being closed, but when a post office has already closed by suspension, it can only be posted at other nearby post offices.

It’s not very likely, then, that anyone will come upon a final determination notice at a post office a few miles away from the one that was suspended and learn that it’s now possible, after five or ten years, to file an appeal. Most likely, the people in these communities will not even become aware that the Postal Service has, at long last, made a final determination to close the post office.

If there’s no appeal, the administrative record documenting how the suspension and discontinuance process was conducted never becomes public. That’s unfortunate, especially considering that the process for many of these closures was surely flawed (as discussed in this 2018 OIG report), which could provide grounds for an appeal.

The PRC has shown little interest in how the Postal Service has conducted the discontinuance process on these long-standing suspensions. The focus has instead been on just getting the Postal Service to clear the backlog so that it is not “out of compliance” with the law governing discontinuances. The Commission will probably be content to see that progress is being made.

The Postal Service’s list of the 170 offices identified for discontinuance is here. More details about these offices can be found on this table, derived from the “Save the Post Office” Suspension Dashboard. There’s more about the suspension backlog and the dashboard in comments that I filed earlier this week for the PRC’s Public Inquiry, here. See also the comments filed by the PRC’s Public Representative, here.

(Photo: Former post office in Hacker Valley, WV, suspended in 2009, then appealed, and the subject of a story on NPR in 2010. Credit: Noah Adams/NPR.)

170 suspended post offices, to be discontinued by Sept. 2022
ADELPHI, OH 43101

ADELPHI, OH 43101

19333 CONCORD ST, ADELPHI, OH 43101
Suspension date: 10/2/2015
Reason: Damaged - Building deteriorated ...
More details
ALMO, KY 42020

ALMO, KY 42020

58 2ND ST, ALMO, KY 42020
Suspension date: 7/22/2015
Reason: Safety/Health Concerns ...
More details
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ALPHA, NJ 08865

914 1ST AVE, PHILLIPSBURG, NJ 08865
Suspension date: 5/1/2008
Reason: Safety/Health Concerns ...
More details
Amity, MO post office

AMITY, MO 64422

4090 SW MAIN ST, AMITY, MO 64422
Suspension date: 2/5/2015
Reason: Lease terminated by lessor ...
More details
ANCHORAGE DOWNTOWN STATION, AK 99501

ANCHORAGE DOWNTOWN STATION, AK 99501

344 W 3RD AVE, ANCHORAGE, AK 99501
Suspension date: 5/20/2013
Reason: Lease terminated by Postal Service ...
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ANGORA, MN 55703

ANGORA, MN 55703

9165 HIGHWAY 53, ANGORA, MN 55703
Suspension date: 11/21/2012
Reason: Lease terminated by lessor ...
More details
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ARDEN, NY 10910

23 ARDEN STATION RD, ARDEN, NY 10910
Suspension date: 7/18/2009
Reason: Safety/Health Concerns ...
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ASSINIPPI, MA 02339

ASSINIPPI, MA 02339

2103 WASHINGTON ST STE A, HANOVER, MA 02339
Suspension date: 8/16/2012
Reason: Lease terminated by lessor ...
More details
ATHENS, IN 46912

ATHENS, IN 46912

6254 E STATE ROAD 14, ATHENS, IN 46912
Suspension date: 12/28/2013
Reason: Safety/Health Concerns ...
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AUSTIN, KY 42123

AUSTIN, KY 42123

FIX ADDRESS
Suspension date: 8/9/2013
Reason: Safety/Health Concerns ...
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BELLVALE, NY 10912

BELLVALE, NY 10912

268 ROUTE 17A, BELLVALE, NY 10912
Suspension date: 8/25/2010
Reason: Lease terminated by lessor ...
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BINGHAMTON, TN 38112

BINGHAMTON, TN 38112

2481 BROAD AVE, MEMPHIS, TN, 38112
Suspension date: 12/1/2011
Reason: Safety/Health Concerns ...
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BIRDS LANDING, CA 94512

BIRDS LANDING, CA 94512

2141 COLLINSVILLE RD, BIRDS LANDING, CA 94512
Suspension date: 12/10/2000
Reason: Lease terminated by lessor ...
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BLOSSOM VALLEY, CA 94040

BLOSSOM VALLEY, CA 94040

1768 MIRAMONTE AVE, MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA 94040
Suspension date: 5/31/2014
Reason: Lease terminated by lessor ...
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BOGGSTOWN, IN 46110

BOGGSTOWN, IN 46110

6951 W LYNN LN, BOGGSTOWN, IN 46110
Suspension date: 2/28/2015
Reason: No qualified personnel ...
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BONEVILLE, GA 30806

BONEVILLE, GA 30806

2322 BONEVILLE RD, BONEVILLE, GA 30806
Suspension date: 6/27/2007
Reason: Safety/Health Concerns ...
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BOWDOIN, ME 04287

BOWDOIN, ME 04287

142 STORE RD, BOWDOIN, ME 04287
Suspension date: 7/3/2015
Reason: Lease terminated by lessor ...
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BRADFORD, IN 47107

BRADFORD, IN 47107

3314 W BRADFORD RD NE, BRADFORD, IN 47107
Suspension date: 2/1/2012
Reason: Lease terminated by Postal Service ...
More details
BROADFORD, VA 24316

BROADFORD, VA 24316

3765 SALTVILLE HWY, BROADFORD, VA 24316
Suspension date: 10/28/2014
Reason: Lease terminated by lessor ...
More details
BROWN STATION, RI 02912

BROWN STATION, RI 02912

75 WATERMAN ST, PROVIDENCE, RI 02912
Suspension date: 10/31/2008
Reason: Lease terminated by Postal Service ...
More details
BURR HILL, VA 22433

BURR HILL, VA 22433

29483 RACCOON FORD RD, BURR HILL, VA 22433
Suspension date: 8/14/2014
Reason: Lease terminated by lessor ...
More details
BUTTZVILLE, NJ 07829

BUTTZVILLE, NJ 07829

295 US HIGHWAY 46, BUTTZVILLE, NJ 07829
Suspension date: 6/1/2009
Reason: Lease terminated by lessor ...
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CAMBRIDGEPORT, VT 05141

CAMBRIDGEPORT, VT 05141

997 SAXTONS RIVER RD, CAMBRIDGEPORT, VT 05141
Suspension date: 9/17/2016
Reason: Lease terminated by lessor ...
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CASCADE, MO 63632

100 STATE RTE M, CASCADE, MO, 63632
Suspension date: 6/6/2003
Reason: No qualified personnel ...
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CASSVILLE, NJ 08527

CASSVILLE, NJ 08527

520 W VETERANS HWY, CASSVILLE, NJ 08527
Suspension date: 12/15/2012
Reason: Lease terminated by lessor ...
More details
CATHARINE, KS 67627

CATHARINE, KS 67627

1676 ST MARTIN, CATHARINE, KS 67627
Suspension date: 8/13/2014
Reason: Safety/Health Concerns ...
More details
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CENTER AVE, CA 92605

7328 CENTER AVE, HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA 92605
Suspension date: 7/18/2011
Reason: Lease terminated by lessor ...
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CENTRALIA, TX 75834

CENTRALIA, TX 75834

100 FM 357, CENTRALIA, TX 75834
Suspension date: 5/30/2015
Reason: Safety/Health Concerns ...
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CENTURY CITY FINANCE, CA 90035

CENTURY CITY FINANCE, CA 90035

9911 W PICO BLVD STE B207, LOS ANGELES, CA 90035
Suspension date: 7/31/2015
Reason: Lease terminated by Postal Service ...
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CHATAWA, MS 39632

CHATAWA, MS 39632

1104 SAINT MARY DR, CHATAWA, MS 39632
Suspension date: 12/3/2012
Reason: Safety/Health Concerns ...
More details