CRESCO – With downtown Cresco business and building owners being “surprised” with new centralized box units (CBUs) being installed with little notice, voices were heard by USPS officials as well as city of Cresco administration and council members.
At the May 19 Cresco City Council meeting, a large group of downtown business owners came to “protest” the boxes, but possibly work with the Cresco USPS in relocating the many CBUs located throughout the downtown district. Led by Paul Lovell, co-owner of Cresco Bicycles, the group expressed problems with the boxes and how they may have “degraded” their downtown.
“We have two main concerns,” stated Lovell at the meeting. “First, we are concerned about the location and appearance of the CBU’s. They are unattractive and have been described as ‘ugly,’ ‘ghetto,’ ‘institutional,’ and ‘trailer park’. They also provide yet another obstacle for pedestrian traffic and snow removal. Business owners with CBU’s in front of their business also have questions of liability.”
Fortunately, Lovell did find a USPS offical (Hawkeye District Manager Jim Hermann) who would “work with him” on the CBUs, helping keep the downtown cosmetics intact as beautiful bronze statues and decorative planters are placed throughout the two long blocks.
“I told Jim that we are not necessarily opposed to the use of CBU’s, just their locations and appearance,” continued Lovell. “As business owners, we are well aware of the budget constraints and challenges facing the USPS and we know change is needed. We are more than willing to work together to improve delivery efficiency and help the USPS.”
Cresco Postmaster Mary Stivers also spoke at the meeting, stating she did plenty of research before installing the CBU’s, but did apologize that she failed to do more communication.
“I have apologized to many people, and that’s not how I do business,” stated Stivers. “We did approach a few businesses on where to put them and walked up and down the streets to figure it out. There was a lot of research done.”
Thomas Allen, manager of the post office operations of the USPS Hawkeye District, also attended the meeting and spoke.
“What I see as ugly and what Paul (Lovell) sees as ugly are two different things,” stated Allen when speaking to the Council and crowd. “When parked at the end of the block I noticed all the mail boxes sticking out on many buildings. That concerns me because of mail theft and Cresco has had mail theft in the past. The CBUs safeguard against that.”
Allen went on to state that the planters and statues also “detour” snow removal and areas for walking.
“We’re willing to work [with owners on] where to place them, but this is the direction the USPS is going. We’re bleeding $1.9 billion in just the last quarter. We’re trying our best to have congress change laws so we can try to act like a business.”
He also stated that the Decorah downtown areas already have them in place, however, those attending noted that the photos were not of buildings downtown, but in other areas.
Jim Holstrom, who lives upstairs in his Holstrom business in the downtown area, also expressed his concerns about the boxes.
“We’re not comparing apples-to-apples here,” stated Holstrom. “The statues and planters were put there to enhance our downtown. The CBUs do not go along with what we’re trying to accomplish with our Main Street. They don’t belong with our statues and planters. If that’s all you have for CBUs, then they need to be removed, but where?”
Following the discussion, Mayor Mark Bohle suggested putting a CBU Committee together with Postmaster Mary Stivers, Paul Lovell, Jim Holstrom and Council Member Jan Carmen and possibly others to come to an agreement on where the boxes should be located.
“I would like to see it done in the next two weeks,” added Bohle. “Really, not everyone will be happy with the complete outcome, but hopefully we can find what will work best for [most].”