The smallest post office on all of Long Island may undergo some cost-reducing changes initiated by the United States Postal Service.
A survey sent last month by the USPS gave South Jamesport residents four options in regards to the future operations of their beloved 400-box post office.
These changes come as a result of the USPS “Post Plan,” an initiative to reduce hours at 13,000 small-town post offices across the nation. The Post Plan “is designed to make sure America’s communities continue to have access to our products and services as we right-size our Post Office network to reflect the nation’s current use of our services,” according to the USPS website.
A meeting for South Jamesport residents will be held this Wednesday, July 9, at 1 p.m. at the Jamesport Meeting House. USPS employees will be present to discuss the plan and receive feedback from the community. They will also reveal the results of the community survey.
The four choices on the survey included keeping the post office open but for limited hours (six hours a day instead of the current eight) and reducing the employee number from two to one; closing the post office and instead starting delivery service; closing the post office and finding alternate locations (like a local business) for deliveries; or relocating the P.O. boxes to the main Jamesport branch.
Chris Kuehn, one of the two postmen at the South Jamesport Post Office, said patrons do not seem happy about the impending changes.
“A lot of older people come here,” he said. “They don’t like change and didn’t like any of the four options … they want it to stay the same, exactly as it is. Other people are interested in the street delivery because it’s a little more convenient.
“I always said that there is more to a post office than just the mail. You should come in on Saturdays—everyone is here, picking up their mail, catching up. Post offices play an important role; it’s a shame to see some of them go.”
South Jamesport postmaster Kevin Ford said he may be transferred to another post office but he may also have the option to stay with a reduced salary.
“I really don’t know exactly what [the USPS is] going to do, he said. ”A lot of [patrons] don’t want them to do anything.”
Bill Gilmore, a resident of South Jamesport for 48 years, echoed the postal worker’s sentiments while picking up his daily mail at the post office Monday.
“I think that it’s a wonderful and lovely place that gives character to our town,” he said. “I’ve been living here for 48 years and even as a little kid I remember coming in and talking to the postmen. You form a bond with these men and the post office becomes a part of your life.”
When asked about the option of mailbox delivery, Mr. Gilmore said he felt safer having his mail inside the post office.
Georgette Keller, the former president and current executive board member of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association, is not particularly fond of the last three options on the survey.
“It’s part of our community culture,” she explained. “You meet your neighbors there. If you want to get something out to the community through flyers, from a lost cat to a barbecue, you know to post it up on the telephone pole outside of the post office. It’s a quaint structure that’s a part of the community. This kind of thing doesn’t exist on Long Island anymore.”
The “Post Plan” was also implemented at the New Suffolk Post Office, the second smallest post office on Long Island, this past November.
Deborah Scott, New Suffolk Post Office’s only employee, says the USPS took away the postmaster position — the Cutchogue postmaster now serves as the acting postmaster for New Suffolk — and cut down on hours, with the office now open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. rather than 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.
“They said that basically these smaller post offices don’t bring in a lot of money so it didn’t warrant paying a postmaster,” she said.
Ms. Scott explained that the residents of New Suffolk were sent surveys to fill out just like South Jamesport residents, and that a meeting was also held so community members could share their opinions on the process. It took about three months for the changes to be implemented, she said.