Steamboat Springs On April 29, Steamboat Springs will become a one post office town.
The U.S. Postal Service next month will move all 2,584 mailboxes from its substation in the Sundance at Fish Creek shopping center to the Postal Service's main downtown station.
Postal Service spokesman David Rupert estimated Monday the move will save the agency more than $1 million over 10 years in rent, electricity, transportation and personnel costs at the Sundance location.
“It's maximizing our facilities,” Rupert said. “Right now we've got two buildings that are a mile apart, and neither one of them is full.”
He said no Postal Service employees are being cut as a result of the move, and mailbox holders at the Sundance location will keep their box numbers, zip codes and keys.
“People don't really need to prepare for the move,” Rupert said. “There may be 15 seconds of anxiety looking for the box at the downtown location, and then it'll be simple.”
The move comes nearly four years after the Postal Service first announced its desire to consolidate the two locations in Steamboat.
But the move faced strong opposition from city officials and members of the City Council who were concerned that closing the Sundance location would create a public safety hazard by increasing traffic and congestion at Third Street and Lincoln Avenue.
Today, some community members still are concerned that the move will cause headaches. And Rupert acknowledged the move will create more traffic downtown.
“But that's offset by maintaining a downtown postal presence, which is important to a lot of communities and their identity,” he said.
City Manager Deb Hinsvark said Monday the traffic pattern that prohibits vehicles from turning left out of the downtown station's parking lot has helped to alleviate traffic at the busy intersection.
She said the city will monitor the impact of the consolidation, but at this point, she said city engineers haven't “raised any red flags” about the move.
“Right now we are feeling the current traffic flow is going to handle the additional traffic, but you always have to wait and see,” Hinsvark said.
The elimination of the Sundance substation is poised to impact residents in different ways.
For some, the move downtown isn't a welcome one.
“It's going to be an inconvenience for people like me who live on this end of town,” Marcia Merchant said Monday afternoon as she picked up her mail at the Sundance location.
Rupert said about 30 percent of the boxes at the Sundance location currently are empty.
Merchant added she was concerned about the increased traffic at the downtown location and the limited parking there.
“I think it's going to be congested,” she said.
But others at Sundance were unfazed by the move, and even welcomed it.
“It's going to be more convenient for me because I work downtown and I already have to pick up mail for my work there,” Juli Montes said. “It's going to be one stop now instead of two.”
After the move, there will be more than 7,000 boxes at the downtown location.
Mailbox holders at Sundance will have limited access to their boxes after 7 a.m. April 27 when the move starts.
Bob Larson, who manages the Sundance at Fish Creek shopping center, said earlier this month he was working with a broker in the fall to renew the Postal Service's lease, but the talks ended abruptly after the broker said she no longer was representing the agency.
"We wish them well, but we have some concerns about their move to the downtown location," Larson said Monday.
He also questioned the Postal Service's estimate that it will save $1 million in 10 years by leaving Sundance.
"That number doesn't hold a lot of weight with me, and that's not a number we negotiated or agreed to," he said. "We're willing to work something out if they want to stay."
The Postal Service already has done extensive renovations to the empty space in its Third Street and Lincoln Avenue building to prepare for the move. Half of the building was previously occupied by a real estate agency.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com