Closing of Village Post Office Ok'd
The downtown Pinehurst post office will remain closed.
The Postal Regulatory Commission on Monday affirmed the decision of the U.S. Postal Service to close the village station post office in downtown Pinehurst.
“Based on its review of the record before it,” the ruling reads, “The Commission concludes that the Postal Service has adequately considered all requirements ... Accordingly its determination to close the Pinehurst village station is affirmed.”
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On Aug. 18, Pinehurst residents John and Bettye Marcum had filed a petition to appeal the decision by the Postal Service to close the facility. The Pilot was unable to reach the Marcums for comment before deadline.
Three of the four commission members affirmed the decision. The lone dissenter was chairman Ruth Y. Goldway.
The concurring opinion was rather lukewarm in its support for the ruling.
Nanci E. Langley wrote, “While I agree that the Postal Service met the most minimum requirements to notice a proposed closure, for the record, it appears that it pre-judged the outcome of the discontinuance.”
She further stated, “Lastly, as I have stated previously in past opinions, the Postal Service did not present a fully balanced cost/benefit analysis for closing this location.”
In her dissenting opinion, Goldway wrote, “The case should be remanded because the Postal Service failed to adequately consider the effect on the community as required.”
“Given numerous expressions of concern about the impact of the closing on the historic nature of the post office and its immediate surroundings, the Postal Service’s failure to address these concerns renders its consideration of the effect on the community inadequate and inconsistently with the section 404 (d), fully independent of the Postal Service’s position on its obligations under the National Historic Preservation Association and its regulations.”
She also stated she didn’t believe the cost savings estimates by the Postal Service were valid.
“The Postal Service does not address why it omits offsets for relocating boxes or for salary continuation,” she wrote. “In my opinion, the savings estimate is not supported by the record.”
Pinehurst Village Manager Andy Wilkison called the ruling consistent with information the village had received in July when he explored the option of appealing the closure. He also said the village is exploring options to fill the vacant building.
“We’ll continue to work like we have been, trying to get a business in there that is a compatible use for the village center,” Wilkison said.
In mid-August, the Postal Service closed the downtown post office and consolidated services with the Blake Boulevard facility located two miles away in Pinehurst South.
Prior to closing the facility, the post office distributed 1,291 questionaries to delivery customers. It also made the questionnaires available over the counter. About 444 were returned.
Of those responses, the Postal Service characterized four as favoring the alternative service, 89 as unfavorable and 351 expressing no opinion.
Customers with post office boxes in the closed post office were given the option either to relocate the box to the Blake Boulevard facility or get home delivery.
The complaint filed by the Marcums offered several reasons why the decision to close the downtown post office should be reversed. Included among them is the impact on business in the downtown.
The Postal Service determined it would save $66,000 per year by closing the downtown post office. The petitioners offered a different analysis that contended there would be costs of more than $325,000 associated with the closing, which they asserted swamps the estimated savings.
The petitioners arrived at that amount by estimating that about half of the rental box owners (1,000) would not relocate and that at a cost of $100 per year, that would cost the Postal Service $100,000 per year. Using $225 per customer for curbside delivery to the estimated 1,000 customers who didn’t renew their boxes, the petitioners reached their figure of $325,000 in lost revenue.
The petitioners also argued that the closure would negatively impact the historic district in Pinehurst. They said the downtown post office was a cultural and business center of the village for more than a century and is the main magnet that draws residents to the village center.
They also asserted that the post office is within the National Historic Landmark district and the Postal Service should have considered the requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act.
The Postal Service claimed that the move was not a closure, but a consolidation, and therefore the Regulatory Commission lacks jurisdiction to rule on the matter.
Contact Tom Embrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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