Watch it live
Renee Mestan, a local resident protesting the U.S. Postal Service's possible closure of the Sundance at Fish Creek branch, will be on Monday's "Steamboat Today" morning show on Steamboat TV18. Tune in to Channel 18 at about 8:35 a.m. to see her interview, and check www.steamboatpilo... later in the day to watch the segment online.
Steamboat Springs This story has been corrected from its original version. PostNet offers postal services such as shipping and stamp sales, but those services are at an increased price from rates charged at post office locations.
South-side postal boxes would be preserved but retail services would move downtown under the latest plans outlined by U.S. Postal Service officials.
The Postal Service's planned closure of its branch in the Sundance at Fish Creek shopping center - and consolidation of services at the downtown office at Third Street and Lincoln Avenue - had city officials and others sweating about the potential traffic and safety impacts at the busy location.
Under initial plans, Sundance's 2,600 boxes would have been relocated to recently vacated space in the downtown building, which already houses 5,200 postal boxes. Spokesman Al DeSarro said Friday that while the Postal Service still intends to consolidate retail services downtown, it will find a location in southern Steamboat Springs for the postal boxes. DeSarro said options include finding new vacant commercial space, renegotiating a lease at Sundance for less space or installing modular units at the site of a new main post office to be built by a private developer near the intersection of U.S. Highway 40 and Pine Grove Road. DeSarro said that decision will be based on what turns out to be the best deal. The Postal Service's lease at Sundance expires in December.
"I think we're on a good course here," DeSarro said.
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 federal fiscal year 2008, and the Postal Service lost $2.8 billion. The Postal Service is on track to lose another $7 billion this federal fiscal year despite $6 billion in cost-cutting measures.
City officials said they also are pleased with Postal Service officials' latest plans, which were outlined in a meeting between the two earlier this month.
"I thought they were very cooperative this time around," said City Council President Loui Antonucci, who guessed the city's efforts to involve Steamboat's congressional representatives were probably helpful.
Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said the city has consistently told the Postal Service that moving everything downtown is "absolutely unacceptable to the city."
"We don't want their financial issues to create traffic headaches and pedestrian safety issues in downtown Steamboat Springs," DuBord said. "To their credit, they heard us, and they're trying to work with us on that. : We left the meeting quite happy."
Down on downtown
Businesses in Sundance, however, want to preserve the post office in that location no matter what.
"We're totally against moving it," said Marie Menk, of Annie's Home Consignments. "We get a lot of customers in here from that. : We have a lot of people walking through with mail in their hands."
Mila Ballentine, manager at Mountain Cuts, said about 70 percent of her customers also visit the post office when they come to get a haircut. She said it's great that customers can go take care of their postal needs if there is a wait at Mountain Cuts, which operates on a walk-in-only basis.
"We're thinking that's not going to be really good," Ballentine said about the possible closure.
Local resident Renee Mestan said Friday that she has collected nearly 2,000 signatures on a petition to save the Sundance branch and prevent operations from moving downtown. She said she is happy that the Postal Service would preserve postal boxes in southern Steamboat but still thinks consolidating retail services downtown is unacceptable.
"We're trying to avoid downtown for obvious reasons," she said.
DeSarro said the Postal Service will take additional steps to mitigate the impact of consolidating retail services downtown, such as reworking the flow of traffic there. DeSarro said the Postal Service also will encourage residents who are not taking advantage of the cluster mail boxes in their neighborhoods to do so.
"That would also help cut down on the traffic congestion at Third and Lincoln," DeSarro said.
DeSarro also said that regional Postal Service officials are requesting that they be allowed to install an automated, self-serve machine at the downtown office that would be available at all hours. DeSarro said such machines are usually only allowed in larger cities, however.
"They're tough to get, but we're going to propose it anyway," he said.
DeSarro added that he doesn't think many Steamboat residents are aware that postal services such as shipping and stamp sales are available at PostNet, in the 1600 block of Mid Valley Drive near the Staples store in southern Steamboat. However, those services are offered at an increased price.