Our view: New postal plan a bit better

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Editorial Board, October 2009 through February 2010

  • Suzanne Schlicht, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Blythe Terrell, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Michelle Garner, community representative
  • Paula Cooper Black, community representative

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

The latest plans offered by the U.S. Postal Service for Steamboat Springs may not be perfect — or even the most convenient — for many city residents, but at least they’re a step in the right direction.

The truth is, it’s hard to expect a lot of concessions from a federal agency projected to lose $3.8 billion this year while still cutting 40,000 employees. Perhaps it’s time for us to accept that the Postal Service is sinking under the weight of an aging business model that necessitates continued and significant changes if there’s any hope of it being a viable service in the future. As such, we hardly should be surprised that those cuts in service and convenience will impact a relatively small city in rural Northwest Colorado.

As a community, our focus should be less on the level of service we expect from the Postal Service and more on the impacts the pending changes have on traffic and safety.

Balanced in that way, the Postal Service’s latest plans for Steamboat are an improvement on what previously was offered.

According to post office officials, the retail service counter at the Sundance at Fish Creek shopping center branch will close Jan. 15. All retail services will be consolidated to the downtown branch at Third Street and Lincoln Avenue. However, contrary to previous plans to relocated Sundance’s 2,584 P.O. boxes to the downtown site, USPS officials say they’re working to keep the boxes in Sundance or move them to another location in south Steamboat. The location also could be a vacant commercial space or modular units at the site of the proposed new post office facility at Pine Grove Road and U.S. Highway 40.

The P.O. boxes will remain in Sundance until at least March 15. Bob Larson, the manager of the Sundance shopping center, is holding out hope for a renegotiated lease with the Postal Service that would retain the boxes at their current location. That certainly would be a victory for many of the businesses in Sundance that reap the benefits of the steady stream of post office-related traffic.

But given how much Postal Service officials have gone back and forth on their plans, it’s hard to believe much of what we’re told. The proof will be in what happens after mid-March.

We share many residents’ disappointment in the coming lack of retail postal service at Sundance, especially because it means increased traffic and congestion heading to the downtown branch. That’s exactly what city officials have been trying to avoid. But there are other, albeit potentially pricier, options for many of the retail services offered at the post office.

PostNet and the UPS Store are in southern Steamboat and offer many of the same shipping services the post office does. FedEx and UPS have locations in west Steamboat, as well.

Taking your mail and shipping business elsewhere may not alleviate your future need to head to Third Street and Lincoln Avenue to send off a certified letter or pick up larger mail shipments sent via USPS, but maybe it’s simply no longer reasonable to expect the same level of service and convenience from a U.S. Postal Service bloodied by falling revenues and the meteoric rise of digital communication.

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