Dunbar plans to recommend reduction in post office hours

| Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, 7:27 a.m.

Dunbar council agreed Monday night to recommend that the U.S. Postal Service keep the borough's post office open with a two-hour reduction each weekday.

If the postal service decides on the option recommended by council, post office hours would be reduced from eight to six hours each weekday. Under the option, current Saturday window service would not change and access to delivery receptacles would not be impacted.

Council also decided to allow Councilman Scott Dunn to represent the borough at a public meeting, where residents will have the opportunity to voice their opinions about the future of the post office. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 14 at Dunbar Presbyterian Church, 91 Connellsville St.

In addition to the first option, the Postal Service is considering two other options.

The second option is for the Postal Service to conduct a discontinuance study for the Dunbar Post Office and provide roadside mailbox delivery. Retail and delivery service would be provided through a rural carrier. Mail delivery points would be established or maintained and customers can purchase most postal services through the carrier or other alternate access points. Customers who already receive delivery service will not be affected.

Under the third option, the Postal Service will conduct a discontinuance study for the office and find a suitable alternative location operated by a contractor, usually at a local business. When businesses are found that meet the criteria, these establishments are contracted through the Postal Service and offer stamps and flat-rate products with service hours generally more expansive than what the local post office may be able to offer.

“We need to take a stance and discuss the post office issue,” Council President Norm Gordon said.

“It's really important for our post office to remain open,” Dunn said. “The borough's post office also serves residents in Dunbar Township. The service area encompasses 60 square miles.”

When Dunbar residents are forced to use the Connellsville Post Office, Dunn said, parking spaces are not available.

Dunn said approximately 18 percent of Dunbar borough and township residents are over the age of 65.

“Closing the post office will provide a hardship for almost one-fifth of our population,” he said.

As a business owner, Councilman Rob Grover said he is very concerned about the future of the post office.

“I recently ordered 1,400 stamps for my business, but they weren't delivered to the Dunbar post office on time,” Grover said. “I had to drive to the Connellsville post office to pick up the stamps.”

A recent letter mailed to Dunbar residents stated that the U.S. Postal Service has established a review process for center post offices known as the POST Plan.

“The Dunbar post office was among the offices evaluated under the POST Plan criteria,” said Linda Cafaro, POST Plan coordinator, in the letter. “The Postal Service is now soliciting community input through the enclosed survey to help determine the best course of action for providing postal services to your community.”

After receiving the survey results, Cafaro said, the Postal Service will examine the responses, and unless the community has a strong preference (more than 60 percent) for conducting a discontinuance study for Dunbar and establishing one of the additional sources of services described, the Postal Service intends to maintain the Dunbar office with six hours of window service each weekday.

In addition to the survey, local Postal Service management will share the results of the survey, answer questions and solicit input regarding the time of day the Dunbar post office will be open.

Although survey results will be known and shared, the Postal Service will not make a final decision regarding the Dunbar post office until the public meeting has been held.

“This will enable the Postal Service to obtain all community input and opinions, from both the surveys and the meeting, before a final decision,” Cafaro said in the letter.

Cindy Ekas is a freelance writer.

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