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Examiner
  • Postal service unveils plan to close downtown facility

  • In August, the U.S. Postal Service made the announcement that it intended to close the downtown post office branch in Blue Springs, moving all operations to the Blue Springs annex less than a mile away.

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  • In August, the U.S. Postal Service made the announcement that it intended to close the downtown post office branch in Blue Springs, moving all operations to the Blue Springs annex less than a mile away.
    During a presentation to the Blue Springs City Council Monday, those plans are still in place.
    “Our purpose is to give the city a heads up before we go any further,” said Russ Rainey, real estate specialist and project manager for the U.S. Postal Service. “The postal service is trying very hard to be more customer friendly.”
    Rainey said postal service will have a $15.9 billion net loss in 2012, forcing the organization to make massive cuts to its work force as well as close or consolidate post office branches.
    The plan in Blue Springs is to move all retail services from the facility at 200 N.W. 11th St. to the annex at 500 S.W. South Ave., which is just east of Missouri 7 and north of Hy-Vee. The downtown facility would then be sold.
    The annex has about 22,000 square feet compared to just more than 11,000 square feet at the downtown location. The U.S. Postal Service estimates that in order to handle retail operations, equipment and the 43 carrier routes in Blue Springs, about 18,000 square feet is needed.
    Renovations will need to be completed at the South Avenue facility before any move is made. That includes adding a parking lot and additional sidewalks going to the building. Over the next 10 years, the U.S. Postal Service expects to save between $1.6 and $2 million with the consolidation.
    “As you know, like many other businesses and organizations today, the U.S. Postal Service continues to be challenged financially by the continuing tough national economy and declining mail volume and revenues,” Rainey said. “With email and the ability to make electronic payments, mailing habits have changed. As a result we have seen a 25-percent reduction in mail volume over the last five years. This led to the creation of the Facility Optimization Program that identified buildings, properties and facilities nationwide than can be sold or consolidated.”
    Last year, the postal service proposed closing hundreds of smaller post offices in the United States through the same optimization program. The post office in Levasy was among those to be considered.
    Kent Edmondson, a city council member and downtown business owner, said he feels closing the downtown branch will negatively affect a downtown area that many people are currently trying to revitalize. He said he knows a lot of business owners and community members share the same concern.
    “We believe that this will be a deterrent to what we have been trying to do over the last few years,” he said. “To put it bluntly, I take this as a slap in the face that you are planning to leave.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Another concern brought up by city council members is the infrastructure around the annex facility. City Council member Dale Carter said South Avenue is not as good as 11th St., and there are no sidewalks currently around the facility to deal with foot traffic.
    “Will you be coming to us for infrastructure money in the future,” he asked. “I just think down the road you are going to come to us to ask us to improve the road and add sidewalks at our expense.”
    Rainey said after a letter is sent to Mayor Carson Ross, community members and business owners have 30 days to submit appeals to the U.S. Postal Service. Those appeals can be directed to Rainey and a committee in Washington, D.C., will discuss the validity of the appeals. No timeline for closing the downtown facility or consolidation has been determined.
     
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