Thirty six post offices to be considered for possible closure
The Postmaster General held a news conference last week to announce the list of 3,653 post offices that will be studied for possible closure or relocation – including 36 in Alaska.
The list was based on three criteria—short business hours, diminished volume, and little foot traffic – as is frequently the case in rural Alaska. The next step for the Postal Service will be a comprehensive evaluation by postal analysts, who will weigh changes to each post office.
Senator Lisa Murkowski today questioned the initial proposed list released by the United States Postal Service suggesting changes to Alaska’s Postal Service operations. “The United States Postal Service themselves admit that this is a rough first draft from a computer’s raw data,” Murkowski said. “But you simply can’t compare four Seattle post offices to 1 in Platinum – this is necessity, not convenience in terms of Alaska’s way of life.”
Another part of today’s announcement was an initiative where Village Post Offices – if a restructuring were considered necessary – could operate within other local retailers like pharmacies or grocery stores, if available.
“I know that the United States Postal Service needs reform, and the Postmaster General needs to put everything on the table when it comes to finding efficiencies,” added Murkowski. “As the USPS considers the proposed closures and relocations of Alaska’s post offices, I am confident they will recognize that many of these locations serve critical functions beyond just selling stamps and delivering letters. In many off-the-road-system communities, the Post Office is the only place where prescriptions are delivered, businesses can receive and send inventory, and banking is conducted. Not to mention the weather challenges faced by many regions of Alaska experience, where even driving a few miles further – where there are roads – can be not only difficult but life threatening.”
In response to the announcement that nearly 3,700 post offices across the country will be reviewed for potential closure, Sen. Mark Begich weighed in with the Postmaster General on his concerns with 36 Alaska post offices targeted for possible closure.
Begich told Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe that post offices in rural Alaska serve unique roles in their community, are often the only source of medicine and food and that replacing them with a computerized kiosk is simply unworkable.
The 36 Alaska post offices identified for review are mostly in remote rural Alaska. A map outlining Alaska post offices subject to review is available here.
“In Alaska, we’re not talking about mail from grandma on a daily basis. Post offices in rural Alaska are the lifeblood of villages, handling everything from basic food products to medicines and building materials,” Begich said.
Donahoe told Begich that he understands the unique role of remote Alaska post offices and will consider that in his review of possible closures. The review of 3,700 post offices should be completed by February 2012, Donahoe said.
In addition to their conversation, Sen. Begich joined three other senators in a letter to the Postmaster General requesting clarity on a number of issues related to possible closure.
“The Post Office needs to be very clear about their intent and process,” Begich said. “Any reduction in services for these 36 Alaska post offices could have grave consequences for the communities, businesses and families.”
Alaskan Post Offices Possible Closure List
Manley Hot Springs