By ALVIN REINER
---- — NEW RUSSIA — The post office here will remain open, but with its hours greatly reduced.
Like the proverbial sardines, residents crammed the tiny post office here for an informational meeting that ended with that good news.
Virtually every square foot was occupied in the 4-by-8-foot “lobby” and equally diminutive work space, as about 20 patrons listened to a 20-minute presentation by Jeff Sands, Post Office Operations manager for Northern New York.
Several others decided the facility was too crowded and a health risk due to the current flu season and did not participate.
Elizabethtown Town Supervisor Margaret Bartley had offered the Town Hall, but postal officials decided against changing the venue.
ONLY WINDOW HOURS
Standing in the narrow doorway separating the two small spaces, Sands explained that the U.S. Postal System has experienced a decline in revenues due to many factors, including bill-paying online, direct deposits by governments and businesses, and purchasing through online catalogs.
“We are also the only federal agency that has pre-funded retirement for its workers,” Sands said.
A year ago, the Postal Service was looking at closing 13,000 postal facilities, but now many are being re-configured, Sands said.
“So we sent out surveys to see what works for you,” he told those assembled in the tiny post office.
“Only the window hours will be affected.”
93 PERCENT RESPONSE
Response to the surveys mailed to post-office patrons was impressive, with 27 out of 45, or 60 percent, returned.
A printout of the results that, among the responses, 25 (93 percent) chose the option of “Realignment of Hours,” while two respondents, (seven percent) opted for the “Delivery Option.”
That paperwork indicated the Postal Service took into account patrons’ survey responses and also its own operational needs.”
The retail hours for New Russia will likely be 9 to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 to 11:45 a.m. Saturdays.
After the meeting, Sands discussed possible locations for the boxes with the facility’s landlord, Alden Harris.
Currently, the post office has only 18 antique brass door boxes in an oak frame, with the rest of the mail as general or roadside delivery.
The present operating situation will continue until at least April or May, at which time the new outdoor boxes will most likely be installed and the adjusted hours established.
“We are trying to work with the people while we are trying to improve our (Postal Service) financial situation,” Sands said.
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