Steamboat Springs The Phippsburg Post Office received official word Friday that it permanently would be closed and that mail service to the unincorporated town would be replaced with outdoor cluster boxes.
There is still the opportunity for one more appeal, but to Phippsburg resident Louise Iacovetto who has been spearheading the five-month resistance to the closure, it’s starting to look like a lost cause.
“I had a glimmer of hope that maybe we could be saved,” she said.
The Phippsburg Post Office was one of about a dozen statewide tapped for possible closure in May. A second round of closure feasibility studies began last week, with 80 more post offices in Colorado in jeopardy, including Toponas.
The process in Phippsburg began with a notification and then a public meeting in June. The U.S. Postal Service considered the public comment then posted a notice of a proposed closure. Residents then had a chance to appeal the proposal. After the final notification Friday, residents have 30 days to appeal via letter to Postal Service headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak, a South Routt resident, said the post offices in small towns are vital, especially for the elderly who can’t drive.
“My personal opinion is that it doesn’t matter what we do or say, they’re going through the motions; they’re going to do it anyway,” she said about the closure. “I think it’s important for that community, and I don’t think cluster boxes are going to work for” Phippsburg.
Stahoviak and Iacovetto expressed concerns about the cluster box plan. They said the notice did not say how many would be installed or where they would be located. Cluster boxes also could require residents to take care of snow removal, a responsibility that would be difficult for the elderly.
Stahoviak said she will discuss with the other county commissioners whether the board will send a formal letter to Washington, D.C., about this round of appeals. The commissioners already have sent two letters opposing the closure to the Postal Service throughout the process.
The formal notice of closure included specific reasons for closing the retail space and consolidating services to the Oak Creek Post Office 4 miles away.
It said the Postal Service would save $43,622 annually by closing the post office and laying off the postmaster officer in charge, Mariea “CC” Connor. The letter said the Postal Service would try to reassign her.
The Postal Service began the closure studies as a cost-saving measure. Officials said the organization is facing a $10 billion deficit and as communication avenues evolve and Postal Service use declines, restructuring is necessary.
“It’s going to make it more difficult for them to have access to their postal services,” Stahoviak said. “And it takes away a piece of their community. (Post offices) have always been the cornerstone of a community.”
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com