Why is the Camp Meeker Post Office Slated for Permanent Closure Again?
For the second time in two years, the Camp Meeker Community has received a letter from the United States Postal Service stating that the Camp Meeker Post Office is being studied for permanent closure. We got a new survey of our postal habits in the mail as well. A local meeting to hear comments is scheduled at the Occidental Post Office on Oct 23 from 5-6pm. We encourage all residents to attend.
If this seems like deja vu all over again, it is. The USPS has already undergone a process for determining which rural post offices to close, beginning in 2012. Camp Meeker was part of that process, and came through it with reduced hours but no closure. The result of the survey conducted then was that residents preferred the option to stay open under reduced hours, which is what happened. Why are they reopening a process that they officially completed and starting over? It’s puzzling, because according to the USPS own closure plan presentation, “Rural Post Offices will remain open unless community has strong alternative preference.” (See slide 12 and 13).
The Camp Meeker Rec and Park Board, with Tony Tominia taking the lead, has been repeatedly reassured by USPS officials throughout the current (and controversial) temporary closure of the Camp Meeker post office that it would NOT close permanently. So why is this back on the table?
The Central Injustice
Perhaps the most important fact that keeps getting lost in all these various closure attempts is that our Post Office is not just where we buy stamps and mail packages. Because we have no street delivery, it is where our mailboxes are, and therefore the ONLY place the vast majority of us can pick up our mail. Closing our post office would leave us with no local delivery. Camp Meeker has the density of a typical suburb, with 350 houses crammed into an area less than half a square mile. How many communities of this size and density have no post office, AND no mail delivery at all?
The USPS itself seems not to understand this, consistently lumping us in with other rural or “underused” post offices it is considering closing, under their broader initiative of eliminating low-revenue post offices to save money. The USPS has once again used this argument as its official reason for attempting to close the Camp Meeker post office, that revenue has gone down since hours were reduced. Yet even if this circular logic were not faulty, selling stamps is not the central mission of our post office– mail delivery is. We are not “underusing” our post office—we are all using it every single day to pick up mail. Those other rural towns with post offices on the closure list still get rural mailbox delivery. We don’t.
Further, it is in the USPS mandate that mail delivery should happen within 1/4 mile of a residence, and yet we are being asked to drive (or walk, in the case of the elderly, blind, or disabled, which we do have in our community) an average of a mile and a half to Occidental, or perhaps 5 miles to Monte Rio if closure goes through, just to pick up our mail.
Our Post Office was founded in 1900. It is the last remaining business in what was historically a vibrant downtown, in what is still a vibrant community. It also serves many other functions that we may never convince the USPS are important, but which we all know to be. It is where people run into each checking their mailboxes. It is next to where people see the community message board promoting community events. It is where the Rec & Park Board puts up official notices where people will see them. It is near the park, playground and the newly developed creek area, where parents can take children after picking up their mail.
Until the Post Office gives us some substitute for mail delivery within reasonable walking distance of every house in Camp Meeker, closing the Post Office is a clear violation of the USPS’s service mandate. It also contradicts their own stated process, which we have already been through. And it will be a loss to the community in many intangible ways.
We hope you will attend the meeting, and make your voice heard.
Sincerely, Camp Meeker Recreation and Park District Board of Directors; Lynn Watson, Cathie Anderson, Gary Helfrich, Tony Tominia, Jeffrey Rusch
Relevant Contact info
Jeannie Ramirez, Occidental Postmaster
Jim Wigdel, USPS Public Communications
Tony Tominia, Camp Meeker Recreation and Park District Board of Directors