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Export residents continue quest to get their post office back

Melanie Litz will get the meeting she wanted in Export's quest to get its post office back.

The councilwoman is scheduled to meet Feb. 26 with Charles McCreadie, district manager of the Postal Service, in his Pittsburgh office. U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire plans to attend, along with other Export officials.

"I want to make sure that they fulfill the promise they made to us in July 2008, that they were reopening a post office in the borough," Litz said.

The community of about 900 residents has sought to re-establish a post office since its facility on Kennedy Avenue closed June 26, 2008. Some Export residents now travel as far as five miles to the Murrysville Post Office.

The Postal Service has explored a location for a contract unit in the Export area, which Litz has referred to as "a counter that sells stamps in an already-existing building." Such facilities are not staffed by a Postal Service employee.

"I'm not willing to accept a contract station," Litz said. "They're trying to slide in through the back door."

Tad Kelly, a Postal Service spokesman in Pittsburgh, said there is a national freeze on new construction and new acquisitions because of the agency's financial problems. Kelly said the volume of mail nationally decreased by 9 billion pieces in 2009, resulting in a loss of $7.8 billion.

"We intend to listen to their concerns and express our situation," Kelly said. "Building new post offices is not in our financial capability. We're going to restate our offer to them of a contract postal unit. We have to find new revenues and savings throughout the organization."

Altmire, a McCandless Democrat, helped to set up the meeting and is supporting Export officials.

"We're hoping to get them to reverse the decision," Altmire said, adding that he is aware of the Postal Service's financial problems. "The Export Post Office situation is unique; we did not have to relocate it. We still have a chance, but because of financial straits of the Postal Service, it could be tough."

Michael Calder, Export's new mayor, plans to attend the meeting.

"We were promised certain things by post office officials," Calder said. "These promises have not taken place. ... That's why we want this meeting to take place in person."

Calder expressed a sentiment echoed by many about the importance of a post office in their borough.

"It's critical," Calder said. "They've stolen part of our identity. It's not only about the fact we have to drive to Murrysville to mail letters, but the post office brings people to this town."

Murrysville Council voted, 5-1, to draft a letter expressing support for Export, and some of the municipality's officials might attend the Feb. 26 meeting. Councilman Dennis Pavlik cast the lone "no" vote.

"That's their identity," said Murrysville Council President Joan Kearns. "There are 900 and some residents of Export who now have to hike to Murrysville for postal services."

In the meantime, Litz is encouraging residents to write letters to McCreadie and Altmire stressing the importance of the post office.

"This is really crunch time," Litz said. "We need to show as much support from the community as possible. If we can flood those offices with letters, it can only help our cause."

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