Our View: Postal Service is lacking service

Advertisement

At issue

Steamboat Springs post office changes

Our view

Postal Service owes our community an honest explanation of its intentions.

Editorial Board, June 2009 to September 2009

  • Suzanne Schlicht, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Mike Lawrence, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Grant Fenton, community representative
  • Paul Strong, 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.

— Steamboat Springs city officials should be applauded for their attempts to dissuade the U.S. Postal Service from consolidating both of its branches to the downtown location, but we fear those efforts simply won't be enough when dealing with an autonomous federal agency. To that end, we encourage local officials and residents to write and call their congressional representatives in Washington, D.C., to see that the community's best interests are served.

The bottom line is that moving the 2,584 P.O. boxes at the Sundance at Fish Creek satellite branch to the main Postal Service location at Third Street and Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat poses serious traffic and safety concerns at an already troublesome intersection.

The Postal Service has signed a contract with developer Brian Olson for a new consolidated postal facility at Olson's proposed City South development at U.S. Highway 40 and Pine Grove Road. As part of that deal, Olson and his partners would acquire the Third and Lincoln parcel owned by the Postal Service in exchange for the new facility.

Until that building is completed - and recent exchanges between Olson and the Postal Service have left some question as to the future of the deal - the post office has said it would move the Sundance boxes to the downtown branch. Last week, Postal Service spokesman Al DeSarro said consolidating Sundance into the main post office always has been a part of the federal plan and now appears even wiser given the agency's budget constraints.

"It's a prudent business decision," DeSarro said. "This was agreed to and discussed with the city. If we've got space in the main post office, especially now, with the economy the way it is, it makes sense to use the space we have for that smaller operation."

That's certainly a different message from what Postal Service officials conveyed 16 months ago, when they told the city it would be difficult to remodel the downtown location for consolidation purposes, in part because of the building's original design for a bank.

The Postal Service now says the Sundance move became feasible when Coldwell Banker Silver Oak's real estate firm left the space it had occupied at Third and Lincoln for 20 years. The truth, Silver Oak owner Mix Beauvais said, is that the Postal Service sent him a letter in mid-winter informing the realty company that it would have to vacate the premises by Aug. 1. Beauvais said he tried to negotiate to use some of the vacant upstairs space, but all attempts were rebuffed.

"There was no way of working with them," Beauvais said this week.

Bob Larson, the manager of Sundance at Fish Creek shopping center, conveyed a similar message to City Council last week. Larson said he's been trying to negotiate a new lease with the Postal Service for more than a year to no avail.

There's an obvious business incentive for the shopping center to retain a traffic-driving tenant such as the Postal Service, but there's even more incentive for the community to keep the satellite branch open until the new facility is completed.

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear as if the Postal Service shares any of that community concern. If money is the No. 1 factor, why would the Postal Service force out a rent-paying tenant in Coldwell Banker, turn away attempts by Coldwell Banker to rent the separate upstairs space and also spurn negotiations by a shopping center in need of a revenue-generating tenant such as a post office branch?

The Postal Service's federal standing gives the city little leverage. Nonetheless, city officials have sent letters to the Postal Service urging them to reconsider their plans, and they've also scheduled a July 29 meeting with Postal Service officials. We urge Steamboat residents and officials to contact Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, as well as U.S. Rep. John Salazar. Their contact information can be found at the bottom of this page.

The Postal Service says it's willing to work with the community to alleviate concerns about traffic and safety at one of Steamboat's busiest intersections. We'll believe it when we see it.

Contact information

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D)

B40E Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

202-224-5941

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D)

702 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

202-224-5852

U.S. Rep. John Salazar (D)

1531 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

202-225-4761

In Colorado: 970-245-7107

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.