Marcums File Appeal on Post Office Closing
While one couple is appealing the decision to close the downtown post office, the village of Pinehurst is working to get another tenant in the building.
John and Bettye Marcum have filed a petition with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC)
seeking a review of the U.S. Postal Service’s determination to close the downtown post office.
The Marcums contend, among other things, that the Postal Service failed to consider the effect of the closing on the community and didn’t follow legal procedures regarding closures.
“What we have asked for, to be clear, is a petition for review and suspension of the closing,” said John Marcum, who is running for mayor. “They may respond to that. They may not. They may go ahead with the appeal and keep the post office locked. We just don’t know.”
While the Marcums are intent on keeping postal operations downtown, the village of Pinehurst is moving foward with efforts to help find a retail tenant for the building.
“We are trying to move forward as quickly as we can to get another party in there,” Village Manager Andy Wilkison said. “We are trying to do what we can to get people talking to the Postal Service.”
Wilkison said he is aware of at least one business owner who has expressed interest in the building, and that person has been in contact with the Postal Service.
“We’ve also been in touch with several out-of-town entities about possibly occupying the property,” he said.
Wilkison said there has also been talk about the village buying the building, but that appears unlikely. He would not talk specifically about any possible occupants other than to say the village hopes the new tennant would be a retail business that draws people downtown.
The downtown post office building has about 5,000 square feet and has a tax evaluation of $659,450. The post office closed Aug. 19 and its services were consolidated with the postal facility on Blake Boulevard.
The U.S. Postal Service plans to close or consolidate more than 3,600 post offices nationwide. Postal officials have cited a “dire financial situation” as a reason for the closures.
According to a report to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the U.S. Postal Service reported a net loss of $2.6 billion in the first half of this fiscal year.
The Marcums filed their appeal Aug. 12, and it was received Aug. 18, according to documents on the PRC website.
The Postal Service must now file the applicable administrative record with the PRC by Sept. 2. In addition, the due date for any responsive pleadings by the Postal Service to the notice of petition is also Sept. 2.
By statute, the PRC is required to issue its decision within 120 days from the date it received the appeal, which would be Dec. 12 in this case. The PRC also designated Malin Moench as a public representative for the Marcums.
The Marcums’ appeal was one of 50 listed as having been filed, according to the PRC website.
In their appeal, the Marcums contend:
- The notice of closure is flawed by not including a 60-day advance notice during which arguments and objections could be made and that the required notification of the right to file a petition for review and the provisions for doing so were not provided.
- The analysis used to show a $66,000 cost savings to the Postal Service was “revealed to be seriously flawed.”
- The economic impact, including the loss of more than 1,000 residents coming to the downtown post office daily, wasn’t considered.
- The economic and historic impacts on the village, which is a National Historic Landmark, were not properly weighed as required under Section 106 of the Historic Protection Act, which applies to the Postal Service since it is a federal agency.
- The Postal Service failed to apply under Section 106 to the historical authorities of the National Park Service (NPS) and the N.C. State Historic Preservation Office.
- The installation of mailboxes on the curbs of the streets would be an invasion of the village landscape and Olmsted’s design.
- It is unclear whether the newer post office on Blake Boulevard, erected in the early 1990s, was coordinated and approved under Section 106.
Marcum said that fact that the downtown post office is a historic building in Pinehurst’s National Historic District is key to the appeal.
“I think the reason this action is going forward is this post office is a nationally historic landmark,” Marcum said, “and as I pointed out to them (PRC), no national landmark post office has ever been closed in the United States because they are considered critical to the National Landmark District.”
Contact Tom Embrey at email@example.com.
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