Mail delivery route scheduled finally

Post office agrees to use Fish Creek cluster boxes

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— As of Sept. 8, the cluster boxes serving residents between Fish Creek Falls Road and Angler's Drive may be collecting more than just dust.

The post office has agreed to serve the 53 cluster boxes, each with 12 or 16 boxes, in that "Phase 5" area after receiving positive feedback from a survey asking residents in the area if they would use the boxes.

Postal employees say the boxes should be getting delivery by Sept. 8, but may be delayed based on whether they can find an employee to make the deliveries.

Postmaster Bill Butler refused to comment on the cluster box service.

Dwight Ballard in the postal service's Denver office was unavailable for comment, though Ballard sent a letter to the city outlining the post office's plans to get service to that area.

He apologized for the "previous confusion" in the letter and identified an "informal agreement" with the city to deliver mail to the boxes.

Vigil Padilla, the supervisor of customer service for the post office, said the survey may have not been as big a deal as the post office initially thought.

"I'm not really sure how much weight that survey really had on the outcome," Padilla said.

Susan Dellinger, the city's geographical information systems coordinator, said the post office received a high response rate about 40 percent on the survey. The city drew up the two-question survey.

Dellinger said U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Col.) wrote a letter to the post office that helped the city make the cluster box delivery program work.

The city has been battling with the post office to make it deliver mail to the boxes in the Phase 5 area.

The city had paid installation fees to get the boxes put in as the final part of a five-phase plan to extend postal service throughout the city and relieve some of the pressure at the main office on Third Street and Lincoln Avenue.

The city has identified that intersection as the busiest crossing in Steamboat Springs.

The post office, which paid for the boxes that were placed in the Phase 5 area, was unwilling to man the delivery route because there had not been enough demonstrated demand for cluster boxes in the first four phases of the cluster box installation program.

The post office currently has the capacity to deliver mail to 3,500 households at cluster boxes in Steamboat Springs, but only makes 1,100 to 1,200 such deliveries a day, Butler said in April.

People with access to the boxes are simply not using them. Meanwhile, the post office fills almost 8,000 boxes a day at the two post offices in town.

Paying drivers to deliver mail to only 30 percent of the potential cluster-box customers is not an efficient way of doing business, even though each cluster box already cost the post office about $1,000, Butler said.

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