Time is running out for residents who want to sound off about the federal government’s plan to relocate the Monticello post office located at 331 W. Broadway St.
Ironically, in an electronic age, the only way citizens can express a view is writing a good old-fashioned letter before Friday, Jan. 6.
That’s what U.S. Postal Service Real Estate Specialist Greg Shelton told attendees at an early December public meeting in the Monticello Community Center’s Mississippi Room.
Shelton was joined by Monticello Officer-in-Charge Cheryl Fritz and Tony Terwey, acting manager, post office operations, who oversees U.S. Post Offices in the 553 ZIP Code area.
City Administrator Jeff O’Neill and Community Development Director Angela Schumann participated, representing the city.
According to a news release, the U.S. Postal Service is planning to consolidate the post office operations located at 331 W. Broadway St. to the carrier annex building, located 206 E. Seventh St.
Retail services would continue at the current site until the carrier annex has been modified and terms of the current lease on Broadway have been finalized, Shelton reported.
Written comments only will be accepted until Jan. 6, 2017, and should be submitted to Shelton at this mailing address: Greg Shelton, Real Estate Specialist, United States Postal Service, 200 E. Kentucky Ave. Denver, CO 80209-9950.
“The lease for the current post office location does not expire until March 31, 2019, so we do have some time,” Shelton said. “We will have 19 customer parking slots and retail operations would be moved to the north side of the carrier annex.”
According to Shelton, the current post office building is approximately 3,000 square feet in size; available space in the carrier annex totals about 7,000 square feet. “We have plenty of room to move in there,” Shelton said. “Right now, the process with this project is keeping Mayor Brian Stumpf and city staff informed.”
Shelton said any correspondence, appeals or concerns will be used to prepare a recommendation that will be forwarded the U.S. Postal Service’s vice president of facilities.
Schumann asked Shelton what the difference was between a comment and an appeal. Shelton said a comment would specifically address an operational concern, such as the location of a collection box, while an appeal represented outright and general opposition to a post office move.
Shelton said all post office boxes would be moved from the current 331 W. Broadway St. location to the carrier annex.
“That box will have the same address if it’s moved to the carrier annex,” Shelton said. “You won’t have to change anything.” Fritz said that there are about 1,200 boxes currently located in the Monticello post office building. Shelton said the U.S. Postal Service considered the location change as an opportunity to downsize a facility.
“It’s a good opportunity for us,” he said. “We have plenty of space in the carrier annex,” he said. “Bringing the two units together will improve things operationally. That’s the primary reason we want to do this.”
Shelton said it was important for residents to write letters to him if they had concerns about a post office move.
During the Dec. 7 meeting, Shelton said the postal service doesn’t need a city permit to make changes at the annex location. “We are part of the executive branch,” Shelton said, referring to the U.S. Postal Service’s placement in the federal government’s structure. “When you buy stamps, that’s how we make our revenue.”
Nine carriers and four clerks work in both facilities, Terwey said. “They go back and forth between both buildings all day long.” Shelton said the reason the public meeting was held Dec. 7 was to provide an open and honest communication with the public.
“If the city and everyone else says, ‘We are extremely concerned about access issues on Seventh Street and the proposed move to the annex, those are things that I will bring to the vice president of postal operations,” Shelton said.
Steve Johnson, Monticello Economic Development Authority (EDA) treasurer, also attended the Dec. 7 meeting. Johnson said the annex originally was built to accommodate a company called Fulfillment Services, a high-volume mail redemption company.
“They decided to abandon the facility, and now you are trying to recoup from that,” Johnson told Shelton. “I can understand that, but it seems like a situation that didn’t pan out is potentially going to fall back on the people who are using the post office right now.”
O’Neill asked Shelton, Fritz and Terwey about the location of post office box holders.
“My hunch is many of those post office boxes are in close proximity to the present location,” O’Neill said. “If you move it across the main highway, it’s a relatively close distance, but Highway 25 serves as a huge barrier to a lot of people. I’d be looking at those addresses and where people are coming from and include that in your decision making process,” O’Neill told postal officials.
O’Neill said the city will be completing improvements this year at the Seventh Street and Highway 25 intersection. “Seventh is a heavily travelled road,” O’Neill said. “There won’t be sidewalk access. That will create an island that’s only really accessible by vehicles. It’s going to be a little bit dicey for people crossing Seventh Street. It’s not the best pedestrian access.”
Fritz said at the Dec. 7 meeting she was moving back and forth between both locations in Monticello because there wasn’t another supervisor at one of the locations.
“If we were to get everything under one roof, we would not have the logistics problems we have currently with having to have staff down at one building and receive UPS drops from different shippers,” she said. “We have to load that onto a large truck, and we actually only have so many licensed to people to drive that vehicle, it has to all be taken down to the carrier annex, to be dispatched there. And vice versa at the end of the day. For the carriers, before they can end their shift, they have to stop off at the retail location to drop off all of their outgoing mail. It’s kind of a logistical nightmare right now.”
Terwey said moving all Monticello post office operations under a single roof would eliminate the logistical nightmare mentioned by Fritz.
“We’d have a centralized location,” he said. “Secondly, when it comes to industrial customers, primarily at the main post office, it’s only our employees housed out there right now, and they do the daily sorting there.”
Terwey agreed that there’s a segment of the elderly customers from the older part of town who probably walk up to the post office because they have done it for 20 years or more.
“Change is hard, but I challenge you to say, ‘Where is downtown Monticello right now?’ You have huge growth on the other side of Interstate 94, and you have a retail mecca on the other end of Seventh Street, and you have everything going on up and down Highway 25,” Terwey said, adding that logistically, putting all Monticello postal operations under one roof would guarantee getting the customers better service at the end of the day.
“Will it be hard for some people to adjust from what I call the corner of downtown Monticello to a central location? Absolutely,” Terwey said. “Are there traffic concerns? Absolutely.”
Contact Tim Hennagir at [email protected]