Residents fight post office closure
A petition has been started to save the post office at Sundance at Fish Creek shopping center.
By the numbers
U.S. Postal Service's declining volume, troubled finances (in billions)
Fiscal year: 2008 - 2007
Mail volume: 202.8 - 212.2
Net loss: $2.8 - $5.1
Source: U.S. Postal Service
Steamboat Springs A local resident has launched a petition drive to save the post office in the Sundance at Fish Creek shopping center at a time when frustrations are growing with the U.S. Postal Service and its plans to close the branch and consolidate operations downtown.
Some involved with the plans have accused the Postal Service of disingenuous behavior. Postal Service officials say they have been as forthcoming and cooperative as possible while waiting for issues to be resolved that will allow them to finalize their plans.
The Postal Service plans to have a new main post office built by a private developer near the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and Pine Grove Road in the proposed City South commercial center. For economic reasons, it plans to merge the Sundance operation and its nearly 2,600 postal boxes with the downtown post office in the interim, a plan that has city officials and others sweating about the potential impacts consolidation would have on the already congested intersection of Third Street and Lincoln Avenue. There are about 5,200 postal boxes downtown.
Renee Mestan's petition is in support of keeping the Sundance office open until operations can be merged at City South. Those who want to sign the petition can call Mestan at 846-5831.
"It's unbelievable the response from people," said Mestan, who said she gathered about 200 signatures in two days. "I really like the Sundance Plaza post office."
Mestan received permission from Sundance at Fish Creek Manager Bob Larson to collect signatures on the property.
"This is something the community doesn't want," Larson said. "If we have 2,000 signatures, for example, maybe our (federal) legislators will listen to it."
The Postal Service is reeling from the economic recession and people's migration to electronic forms of communication. Mail volume declined by 10 billion parcels in fiscal year 2008, and the Postal Service lost $2.8 billion. The Postal Service is on track to lose another $7 billion this fiscal year despite $6 billion in cost-cutting measures.
"It's a prudent business decision," Postal Service spokesman Al DeSarro said last month about the planned consolidation of Steamboat's postal facilities.
DeSarro said Friday that consolidation is still the plan but that there may be other possibilities. Among them is installing temporary trailers at the development site of City South that could replace the postal boxes at Sundance. The Postal Service also may extend the lease at Sundance that is set to expire in December. The Postal Service expects its new facility to be operational in 2011.
"We still very much want to meet the city's needs and go on to be flexible and make sure they're satisfied as much as we can," DeSarro said.
City officials, Larson and others met with postal officials last month to discuss the proposed consolidation and related concerns. City Council President Loui Antonucci said it was hard to get any straightforward answers at the meeting.
"They take the Fifth every chance they get," he said. "It's kind of almost frustrating dealing with them."
Nonetheless, Antonucci said he left the meeting feeling optimistic because of the idea of the trailers and the Postal Service's apparent willingness to mitigate the impacts of a consolidation.
Larson has been similarly frustrated. He said he has been unsuccessfully trying to renegotiate a lease with the post office since September. He said Postal Service officials have refused to respond to his proposals.
"There's no earnest negotiation on their end," Larson said. "We are willing to negotiate and be creative with them.
"They are telling folks : that we have turned down a deal : which is crazy. They haven't even talked to us," Larson continued. "We're not going to be scapegoats for this bad plan the post office has."
DeSarro and Leigh Hettick, the Postal Service's district facility activation coordinator for Colorado and Wyoming, said they would like to provide the community with more specific details of their plans and a concrete timeline but that they are still waiting for Postal Service headquarters to approve their ultimate plan to consolidate operations at City South. Once that occurs, Hettick said, interim plans will be finalized.
"Until we get more details and approval dates, that's all we can say right now," Hettick said. "We can't come to the table and negotiate terms (with Larson) when we don't quite know what the terms we need are."