Three area post offices are under study by the U.S. Postal Service that could change the way each conducts business. Autryville, Ivanhoe and Turkey have been listed in the Post Plan that came out in May, now the possibilities of this plan are being discussed.
According to Monica Coachman Robbs, U.S. Postal Service - Corporate Communications for Greensboro and Mid-Carolinas Districts, the Postal Service announced in July 2011 that nearly 3,700 post ofﬁces would be studied for possible closure. The consideration of whether to close a post ofﬁce is just one strategy in a series of actions the Postal Service is considering in the wake of continued mail volume decline, ongoing ﬁnancial challenges and changing customer behavior.
“For decades, the Postal Service’s retail ofﬁces were built or leased in locations where the population had grown, and in the areas that experienced the most retail activity — in the centers of towns or near other government structures, for example. However, as cities and towns have expanded outward over the years, and as the population reestablished in more urban and suburban settings, the post ofﬁces remained in place, resulting in a network of retail ofﬁces located in areas where few people live, work or shop. The need to realign these ofﬁces to match today’s community activity, mailing habits and postal resources is critical,” explained Robbs.
In the months that followed the July 2011 announcement, thousands of community meetings were held and surveys were conducted in each affected location. The feedback generated by those meetings and surveys, and from stakeholders at every level, helped outline the new options being announced now.
Robbs explained that even though retail sales and foot trafﬁc for most post ofﬁces has declined signiﬁcantly in recent years, the Postal Service has received considerable feedback from communities around the country, requesting their post ofﬁce remain open for business.
A new strategy designed to preserve rural post ofﬁces, announced May 9, reﬁnes the Postal Service’s approach regarding post ofﬁce structure by offering an option that could keep most existing post ofﬁces in place, but with modiﬁed retail hours to match customer use. Access to the retail lobby and to P.O. boxes will remain unchanged, and the town’s zip code and community identity will be retained.
The Postal Service has recently mailed surveys to the residents of Autryville and Turkey with options that consists of maintaining the existing post ofﬁce, staffed by a postal employee, with modiﬁed retail hours to match customer use.
The new strategy listed in the survey, which include: 1. Providing mail delivery service to residents and businesses in the affected community by either rural carrier or highway contract route; 2. Contracting with a local establishment and creating a Village Post Ofﬁce; 3. Offering service from a nearby post ofﬁce; Keep the office open, but with realigned weekday window service hours, based on actual office workload. Current Saturday window service would not change and access to delivery receptacles will not be affected.
Robbs shared that the new strategies would be implemented over a two-year, multi-phased approach and would not be completed until September 2014. At the end of May, the Postal Service intends to seek an advisory opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission on this plan.
“It is vitally important for everyone who receives a survey to complete it and return to us. It will be the input from the local residents who will determine what direction the Postal Service will follow,” stressed Robbs. “Listening to our customers and gathering their input via public meetings and surveys is a critical part of POST Plan. The schedules provided here give details on the date, time and location of public meetings for each post office being considered under the plan.”
Community meetings and surveys are being conducted to review the options in greater detail.
Autryville mayor Patricia Williams shared that the closing of that town’s post office would present a burden for many of its citizens.
“A lot of our older citizens depend on their checks coming through the mail and the post office assures them a safer delivery than if it were delivered to their homes. Some of the options presented would also be a burden, such as moving the post office services to an area post office. It would be my opinion for them to close an entire day and keep the post office in Autryville rather than to close it. Hopefully our citizens will complete their surveys, accepting the option of reducing the service time to six hours per day,” stated Williams.
The postal meeting is currently scheduled for noon on Wednesday, Oct. 24 for Autryville. Williams shared that the town has requested a change in time so more could attend the meeting.
Ivanhoe is also scheduled for the Post Plan. However post office officials shared that a meeting time nor date has been established as of yet but shared it could be around the first of the year.
Turkey town commissioner Patricia Tew shared that losing their post office would be devastating to the small town.
“We have already lost our bank and now if we lose our post office so many people will be affected in such a bad way. We really need our post office to remain as it is. A lot of Turkey residents walk to the post office or either drive a short distance. Some of our older citizens might not even know where the Clinton post office is located,” cited Tew.
The commissioner went on to state that because those people that work such a variety of schedules it is difficult for them to get to the post office now with the hours they have. But if the hours are cut to six hours a day it would limit their access even more.
“I am able to run to the post office to help some of my family that can’t get there during business hours but there are a lot of people in Turkey that don’t have a me. It is important that we do everything we can to keep our post office as it is. It is so important that everyone sends back the surveys,” expressed Tew.
Turkey’s meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24.
The surveys should be mailed back in by Oct. 10 in order for the Postal Service can assimilate the information and know what the town’s residents decisions are prior to the meetings. Robbs and the mayors of Turkey and Autryville stressed for their citizens to get the surveys in as quickly as possible.