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[10 on Tuesday] 10 Ways to Fight for Your Local Post Office


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You may have heard that the United States Postal Service (USPS) is suffering from some serious debt. They are projected to rack up a deficit of over $18 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “b”) next …

You may have heard that the United States Postal Service (USPS) is suffering from some serious debt. They are projected to rack up a deficit of over $18 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “b”) next year alone. So, they are trying to cut costs any way they can: considering ending Saturday mail delivery, not replacing thousands of retiring postal workers, asking Congress to drop their mandate to pre-fund billions in retiree health benefits, terminating building leases, and selling their post office buildings or “relocating” their services to a new building.

And unfortunately for people in impacted communities, they’re not always forthcoming about their plans, so it’s critical for the public to get involved, know their rights, and be persistent. If the USPS decides to sell or relocate a historic post office in your town, here are ten steps you can take to protect it.

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  • 1. Photo courtesy Matthew Gilson10 Ways to Fight for Your LocalPost Office
  • 2. USPS Properties for Sale is the official list ofpost offices being sold -- but keep your eyesopen for other signs like a survey in your mailabout local postal services or legal notices inyour post office about public meetings. Anddon’t hesitate to ask your local postmaster forinformation on the building’s status.1. Find out if your postoffice is threatened.Photo courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • 3. USPS regulations and U.S. Code are veryclear about the procedures for relocating,discontinuing, or suspending service at apost office, and what role the public canplay in making those decisions. The moreyou know, the more effective you can be.Check out the National Association ofPostmasters of the United States(NAPUS) and its Post Office Red Book foruseful information.2. Know your rights.Graphic courtesy NAPUS Red Book
  • 4. Residents and postal customers need to getinvolved in the process as early as possible tomake themselves heard. Ask your postmaster,city manager, alderman, or other electedofficials if they’re aware of any plans to closeor relocate your post office. If USPS hasreleased a proposal for closure or relocationof your post office, the public has 60 days tocomment on that proposal and how it affectsthem.Tip: Make sure your friends, family, neighbors,local businesses, and community leaders alsotake advantage of these opportunities tospeak out.3. Don’t wait.Photo courtesy sardinista, Flickr
  • 5. There’s strength in numbers, and manygroups in your community would likely beinterested in preserving your post office.Reach out to business owners or businessgroups, the chamber of commerce, yourpreservation commission, fraternalorganizations, historical societies, churchgroups, your Main Street organization, cityofficials and staff, and local schools.4. Bring friendsto the party.Photo courtesy Chris_Parfitt, Flickr
  • 6. Keep local reporters, bloggers, and radio hostsapprised of any activity around your post office,whether it’s the distribution of a questionnaire, apublic meeting hosted by USPS, a planningmeeting of local advocates, a notice from USPSabout a proposal or a decision, or even a rallythat you stage to protest USPS’ actions.Tip: Good press coverage is instrumental ingetting the word out, getting people involved,and communicating the amount of publicopposition to the closure or sale of a post office.5. Use the media.Photo courtesy Daniel Parks, Flickr
  • 7. USPS usually convenes at least one public meeting to gather publicinput on a proposed closure or relocation, and it is absolutely criticalto have a good turnout at that meeting from post office customers,city officials, community leaders, and concerned citizens.6. Show up.Photo courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • 8. If your post office is in a historic building, the National Historic PreservationAct requires the USPS to consult with interested parties. Nonprofitorganizations or members of the public with a “demonstrated interest” cantake part by composing a formal letter to the agency’s Federal PreservationOfficer. Make sure to emphasize why you or your group is interested, andcopy your State Historic Preservation Officer.7. Become a Consulting Party.Photo courtesy Steven Vance, Flickr
  • 9. Your state and federal senators andrepresentatives can be some of your bestallies. Call, send a letter, or -- best of all --schedule a meeting. Bring materials thatincludes a brief summary of the situation,correspondence from USPS, formalresponses from city officials or localadvocates, and press highlights. Then, askthem to support you with a letter opposingthe USPS’ proposed action.8. Lobby your legislators.Photo courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • 10. Even if you rally the troops and take all theright steps, it’s still possible that USPS willstill decide to sell or relocate your localpost office. But that’s not the end of theroad! You can -- and should -- appeal thatdecision to the Postal RegulatoryCommission (PRC).Tip: The NAPUS Post Office Red Bookprovides excellent guidance on the PRC,their appeal process, and how to preparean effective statement.9. Appeal the decision.Photo courtesy National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • 11. If the PRC deems that the Postal Service adhered to their legalguidelines in their process and decision, your post office will be listedfor sale. Even if it is no longer a functioning post office, it’s still animportant part of your town. Ensure that the building goes intoresponsible hands and continues to serve your community by:• identifying possible public and private owners and sendingthem information about the property;• researching and sharing suggestions for compatible newuses that will preserve the most important features andspaces of the building; and• locating non-profit groups in your city or state that arequalified to hold an easement or covenant on the building.10. Help find a new use.
  • 12. Ten on Tuesday features ten preservationtips each week. For more tips,