Post office plans overhaul
May 27, 2006
Earl Stein has moved from Old Town, where he lived for more than 20 years, to Kimball Junction but his mailbox number has stayed the same, even through a divorce.
Now Stein and about 300 others with boxes at the Main Street post office will have their addresses eliminated as postal officials reconfigure the post-office boxes. The manager at the Main Street post office says the change is necessary because Parkites get so much mail that lots of the boxes, particularly the smallest ones, become clogged.
Stein said he believes that he first rented the mailbox in 1980, when Park City was much smaller with far fewer people needing post-office boxes. Three and a half years ago, when Stein said he was divorced, part of the settlement was that he kept the post-office box.
"A steady address is an asset," Stein said recently, as the post office changed his box number by 15 digits.
A sound recorder for moviemakers, Stein said the old address is on his resumes and he used the post-office box for his own mail and for clients. He expects that letters sent to him will become lost and he is displeased with the amount of time he envisions it will take to make sure that people have his new address.
"It’s just going to be a pain in the butt and I’m going to miss mail," Stein said.
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The post office is planning an overhaul of the boxes and recently sent a letter to people whose mailbox numbers will be changed.
Jason Duke, the manager at the Main Street post office, said the smallest post-office boxes, measuring 6 inches high, 3 inches wide and 15 inches deep, will be eliminated by November, if the post office hits its target. The larger ones are not impacted.
Bigger boxes about 1 1/2 times as large will replace the smaller ones. Duke estimates that about 1,100 smaller boxes are currently rented and after the reconfiguration, between 1,000 and 1,100 of the bigger boxes will replace the smaller ones.
Duke said between 150 and 200 of the smaller boxes are currently not rented. That allows the post office to complete the reconfiguration without significantly lowering the number of boxes available by using the space now taken up by those boxes.
Duke calls the smaller boxes "a relic of the past" that are not big enough to hold the scores of catalogs, magazines and newspapers that lots of people now receive through the mail.
Newer post offices usually are not built with the smaller boxes, he said.
"For letters, they worked perfectly. Nowadays, people get more than just letters," Duke said.
According to a letter that the post office distributed to people whose boxes will be eliminated, the step to get rid of those addresses was needed to ensure that the numbering system for the rest of the boxes could be done.
The letter said the post office must get rid of the smaller boxes in the second and fifth columns of each set of boxes. It said that the post office has not rented the smaller boxes for a few months.
Duke said the just more than 300 people in Stein’s predicament must sign up for new post-office box numbers if they want to continue receiving their mail on Main Street. About 150 of them already have, he said.
They are filling out forms to change their address, Duke said. He said credit-card companies, banks and big utilities have access to a database that lists when addresses change and the companies will note the new address.
He said, though, that people whose address is changing should tell relatives and friends. Duke said some people are grumbling that they have had their box for a long time but he said the response is "not nearly as negative as I thought it would be."
The overhaul of the mailboxes comes as City Hall and the United States Postal Service have been contemplating whether the Main Street post office could be downsized.
Park City leaders covet the land where the post office sits for part of a town plaza that City Hall plans to build. But the talks regarding the plaza are ongoing and the details of a deal for the post-office land are undecided. It seems, though, that Park City and the postal service want to ensure that there is some sort of post office on Main Street if the plaza is built.
Duke, talking about the boxes that become full, describes the scene in the sorting room, saying that if too much mail is already in a box, staffers must put new mail in tubs and hold it for the customer. In the sorting room, tubs are seen randomly placed on the ground below boxes that are full.
"When it come to these," he said, talking about the mailboxes that are full. "I’ve got to stuff."
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