WEST SPRINGFIELD — The U.S. Postal Service is giving West Springfield customers a choice: a part-time post office or nothing.
The Postal Service plans to reduce window service at the local post office from six and one-half to four hours daily on weekdays and continue Saturday morning hours, according to a May 28 letter to customers from USPS Post Plan Coordinator Joseph Garvin.
That’s unless at least 60 percent of West Springfield customers prefer a “discontinuance study” to determine if the post office should be closed instead, Garvin said.
Alternatives to reduced hours, according to a customer survey accompanying Garvin’s letter, are closing the post office but continuing rural delivery; closing the post office and making stamps and other postal products available at a local business; and closing the post office and providing mail service from a neighboring post office, probably East Springfield, about 4 miles away, or Albion, about 11 miles away.
“There should be one more choice on the survey, for service as is,” said Raymond Camp, chairman of the Springfield Township Board of Supervisors. Camp lives in West Springfield.
The proposed reduction in post office hours is just another example of government reducing services and spending in rural communities, Camp said.
“The state is taking two bridges away from us. Now the federal government wants to come in and take our post office,” Camp said. “I’m pretty upset about it, and I’m getting a little tired of them picking on Springfield.”
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation officials have said they do not plan to repair or replace two deteriorating bridges over Interstate 90 in Springfield Township. The bridges will likely be demolished in coming years.
“This is kind of like what the state did,” Camp said of the Postal Service plan. “They gave us a whole bunch of alternatives on these bridges. We had six or seven meetings on the bridges. And we knew from the first meeting that they were going to eliminate the bridges. I imagine this is the same thing; the Postal Service will listen to what people have to say, and then do what they want to do anyway.”
Keeping some post offices open with reduced hours is a better alternative to previous plans to close a number of rural and small-town post offices, Postal Service spokesman Tad Kelley said.
“Back in 2011 we were out talking about closing offices outright and received a lot of feedback from customers, obviously, and from elected officials. We came back and said that we realize post offices are very, very important to communities; that was expressed very clearly to us. But we are in a financial crisis situation,” Kelley said.
The Postal Service reported a net loss of $1.9 billion in the second quarter of its 2014 fiscal year.
A “Post Plan” rolled out by the USPS in May 2012 to reduce office and employee hours instead could keep 13,000 small and rural post offices open in West Springfield and nationwide, Kelley said.
A final decision about West Springfield postal service won’t be made until postal officials share survey results and answer questions about local service during a public meeting at West Springfield United Methodist Church on July 2 at 6:30 p.m., Garvin said.
The post office, at 13788 Ridge Road, serves 102 post-office box customers and delivers mail to 515 customers, Kelley said.
The office is currently open for window service from 8:30 until noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays.
Lobby hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturday hours are from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Those hours will continue if the post office remains open, Kelley said. Customers are being asked to suggest viable weekday hours.
The Postal Service closed several post offices in Erie County in recent years, in North Springfield in January 2005, in Lake City in January 2011 and in Wesleyville in April 2011.
Two downtown post offices were closed and consolidated at a single location in April 2012.
The Postal Service district office on Legion Road in Millcreek Township was also closed, in 2009.
The office provided management services for post offices in northwestern and central Pennsylvania.
Postal officials at one time planned to close the mail-sorting facility on East 38th Street in Erie in 2012. The facility remains open.