U.S. Post Offices

Ripton, VT post office inside the general store.

The press is abuzz with articles about the government’s potential plans to shut down the smaller, less profitable, less used post offices across the country. There have been articles featured in papers from The New York Times to every local paper and news channel and NPR. Even Vermont’s generally anti-anything-preservation-related newspaper, Seven Days, featured a recent article about a small town post office. For a quick news story, check out ABC news and read or listen to the brief. Is your post office on this list? Look it up.

The overview of the news? The US Postal Service is facing $7 billion in debt this year, and predict exponential amounts of debt within the next decade. The Postal Service is considering closing almost 3,700 post offices (mostly in rural areas), ending Saturday delivery, raising stamp prices and changing healthcare benefits for employees.

If these post offices do close, some small communities will no longer have a civic or casual meeting place. Rural areas are difficult to understand if you live elsewhere, but often the post offices serve an important purpose. Residents worry that they will just disappear without a post office and will be metaphorically annexed or forgotten.

Bottom line: the government thinks it is a good idea. The people who will be losing their post offices think it’s a bad idea. For those of you not affected: do you care? What do you think?

Is consolidating post offices a good idea? Or is it one of those ideas like shutting down neighborhood schools and consolidating them into larger schools? In my opinion, it’s like the latter idea. It seems to me that finding a community gets harder and harder in this age, and erasing something that creates and enables community is not a good idea. Find a better way to solve the post office deficit. Perhaps not sending the junk mail telling me that I can buy stamps online will help. Just a thought.

While on the subject of post offices, does anyone else think that most of them are in hideous buildings: strip malls or vinyl sided, just-plain-ugly buildings? No wonder why no one wants to use a post office!? I love when I can walk into a post office in a historic building – that is the experience people need in order to appreciate the post office.

If writing one real letter per month would help to save the small post offices, would you do it? I love writing and receiving real letters. Granted, I love email, blogs and the internet, but something about a letter or a postcard is so much more thoughtful. Would you ever write a sincere thank you note via email? Just curious.

In a restaurant in Bethel, VT.

What do you think? Are post offices vital to communities? Is your post office vital to you and your community? What about Saturday delivery? (I’d rather keep Saturday delivery and get rid of Monday or Wednesday if we had to. You?) I consider this a preservation issue, how about you?