Infrastructure & Services

Post office changes likely

As the U.S. Postal Service begins closing 2,000 postal stations and branches around the country and reshuffling its staff, some local residents are worried about impacts to the Yellow Springs Post Office and their mail delivery. While post offices like the one in Yellow Springs are not being considered for closure, according to the postal service’s Cincinnati district, the local post office’s two counter clerks and eight mail carriers have been notified that they may soon be transferred to the Xenia Post Office.

“We know there will be changes — we just don’t know what,” said the local office’s postmaster Dave Kennedy, who has heard from many local residents concerned about a reduction of services at the Yellow Springs office. “I’m pretty confident they won’t close us. We still have a strong community draw.”

A postmaster, eight mail carriers and two counter clerks work out of the Yellow Springs office, which has PO boxes and provides retail counter service for mailing packages, buying stamps and more. 

The Yellow Springs office will likely not close, since the Cincinnati district office is currently only closing branches and stations, said David Walton, a spokesman for the district, which is reviewing locations to close in the Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo areas.

A branch is a secondary postal location within a given municipality, while a station is a postal location outside a municipal area. Because the Yellow Springs Post Office is the only postal location in the Village of Yellow Springs, it is not being considered for closure at the moment, Walton said.

While the loss of locally-based mail carriers may not significantly affect the delivery of local mail (though Walton said some residents may receive their mail slightly earlier or later),  losing the office’s two clerks, Renee Martin and Molly Panstingel, may mean longer waits and reduced hours as Kennedy would be the only postal service worker behind the counter.

But, Kennedy said, the transfer of any staff from the Yellow Springs office remains tentative.

“The big impact’s the counter, as long as that stays open, [my customers] will be happy and I’ll be happy,” he said.

The district office closed three locations in  the Cincinnati area this week, while two additional locations will close at the end of March. The district’s moves are part of a national initiative the federal agency started in 2009 to reduce expenses. Last year the postal service lost $8.5 billion and 18,000 post offices across the nation were losing money, Walton said.

“We have a say in which offices we want to close,” Walton said. The district evaluates “our retail sales, customer traffic, number of employees impacted, parking issues — we do look at those.”

Post offices cannot be closed just because they are unprofitable and those that may be affected by a closure have a chance to respond before their location is closed, Walton said.

“We take everything into consideration,” Walton said of comments received by concerned citizens. “In a small community it’s often the only source to mail things. That’s one thing we look at before we even contemplate closure — access.”

In the last five years, first-class mail has declined nationally by 43 billion pieces, likely due to the recession and the rise of the Internet, Walton said. Now the post office’s main business is packages, for which it competes with other retailers.

“Our primary business was first-class letters, bills, payroll checks, people writing their grandmas in California,” said Kennedy, who has been the local postmaster for five years. “Now everyone does the Internet, e-mail, texting, bill-paying systems and it’s taken a huge chunk of business from us.”

Kennedy said because the Yellow Springs office owns its building on Corry Street, the chances of closure are less. However, Walton said that whether an office owns or rents its building is not a factor, since buildings can be sold for cash.

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