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Joyce Endee

Possible closure has post office patrons upset

THE POST OFFICE in Barnstead Parade faces a possible closure, which brought out many residents to a meeting last week. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
May 25, 2011
BARNSTEAD — A meeting was held at the Barnstead Town Hall on Wednesday, May 18, to gather public input on the possible closing of the post office on Parade Road in Barnstead.

Jim McCartney, a representative for the post office, has been assigned to study the closing of the post office and ran the meeting.

He explained the process of sending out questionnaires, holding a meeting and adding comments to the official record and submitting his report. The proposal would be posted for 60 days and then reviewed by the post office headquarters and a decision would be handed down within 30 days.

The community could appeal the decision, and he said the whole process normally takes about seven months.

Pat Cotton, who worked for the post office for 26 years and retired in 1999, voiced her support to keep the office open.

"We do not want to have our post office closed," Cotton said. "The postal service needs to put service back into the postal service."

After the meeting, Cotton encouraged people to write to the Senators and State Representatives, the postal office in Manchester and the Postmaster General in Washington, D.C. to show support to keep the 03218 post office up and running.

McCartney was asked about the PO boxes, and he explained that they would be moved to Center Barnstead office. The Parade Road office has 24-hour key card access and McCartney said that there is no plan to add a similar access to the Center Barnstead office.

McCartney said route extensions may also be granted.

Michael Kowalski asked about the economics of closing the Parade Road office instead of the Center Barnstead office.

McCartney said that a postmaster is coming to the Center Barnstead office in the near future, which prevents the study of closing that office.

Jim Barnard pointed to the limited hours of the Parade Road office and it coinciding with a drop in revenue and asked about moving carriers around.

McCartney talked about cost cutting measures that the post office is looking into and introduced the phrase "delivery movement optimization."

It was pointed out that the cost of the lease for the Center Barnstead office is much more expensive than the lease for the Parade Road office.

Catherine Patton said that she avoids going to the Center Barnstead office and will even wait until the next day to visit the other office because "it belongs there."

McCartney said that the PO box fees would go up if they were moved to the Center Barnstead office. The smallest boxes would be $2 more for six months, the level two boxes would be $4 more for six months and the larger boxes would be $5 more for six months.

A question was raised about hiring more staff for Center Barnstead office, and McCartney said that additional staff wouldn't be needed because the volume of mail has decreased immensely.

Barnard suggested looking at revenues when the office was open full time and questioned continuing the lease at the more expensive office, the Center Barnstead office.

McCartney was asked if a decision to close the office has already been made, and he said that only the headquarters could make the decision to close the office.

McCartney said the findings from his report would be posted at both post offices, but the study wouldn't be posted online.

He said that there are several other offices in New Hampshire that are being studied and 21 offices in Maine are being studied.

Kowalski asked what the public could do to stop the closing.

McCartney talked about building his report.

"I will put the good, the bad and the ugly in the report," McCartney said. "The purpose of the meeting is to build the official record. The more people that come, the more nervous I get."

McCartney thanked the people for coming out to the meeting and he encouraged people to put their thoughts into writing and send them to his office.

Dave Murley, who is the chairman of the Barnstead Planning Board, has already started a petition to oppose the closing of the office.

Tim Croes can be reached at tcroes@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

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