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Town’s request to open Village Post Office denied

Some local business owners have been receiving forms requesting the business’s minutes and a $125 processing fee. Officials are saying that the misleading mail is impersonating the state with the way the documents and envelope look.

Some local business owners have been receiving forms requesting the business’s minutes and a $125 processing fee. Officials are saying that the misleading mail is impersonating the state with the way the documents and envelope look.

The United States Postal Service has rejected a request by the Boscawen Historical Society to allow for the creation of a “Village Post Office,” a cause the group has been pursuing since the town’s post office closed in January 2012.

“I think it really knocks the wind out of our town to not have what defines a town center in most places,” said Michele Tremblay, project leader and a longtime member of the historical society.

The town’s old post office was one of 20 contracted offices nationwide forced to close after a new union agreement was reached between the U.S. Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union in late 2011. As a contracted station, it was open 18 hours a week and the government paid an approximately $8,000 salary to one postmistress. The historical society owned the space and paid to run the building.

After a fight to keep the office open didn’t work – more than 600 residents signed a petition and an anonymous donor offered to pay the postmistress’s salary – the group explored opening its own village post office. A village post office would be operated by a local business and provide basic postal services.

Last March, the group submitted a detailed application to the U.S. Postal Service outlining the need for an office in town. Last week, the U.S. Postal Service responded to the request through Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s office, not directly to the group. The request was denied because the existence of a village post office would violate the contract signed in 2011, the letter said.

It also referenced other nearby post offices that Boscawen residents can use.

“Since the closing of the Boscawen CPO, we have continued to serve our customers through retail units in close proximity and by rural delivery, where customers can obtain products and services directly from their rural carrier without leaving the convenience of their home or business.”

In its proposal for the village post office, the group cited Boscawen’s growing population, traffic near the potential post office location, the town’s aging population who receive prescriptions through the mail and the number of businesses in town. Not having a post office will cause an inconvenience for community members and potentially keep businesses from investing there, the application said. Under the proposal, a village post office would have expanded hours and provide wrapping and packaging services, as well as internet access.

Tremblay said the group is more than dissatisfied with the outcome and how the situation was handled by the U.S. Postal Service. Having to travel to Concord or Penacook for mail services causes a huge inconvenience,
especially when there are long lines in those areas, she said. A trip to the post office for some Boscawen residents could take upwards of 30 minutes, which is time not everyone has during the work day.

Furthermore, the group feels post office services are a vital part of community life. The post office previously acted as something of a second town center, with fliers and information about community events always available.

The group hasn’t made a formal decision about how to move forward, but they are considering looking into appealing the decision if there is a channel for doing so, Tremblay said. In addition to maintaining community history, the group’s desire to continue pushing for a post office is simple.

“Every town should have a post office,” Tremblay said. “Every town should have a place where businesses and individuals can have a P.O. Box, (and) the services the post office brings.”

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or
kronayne@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @kronayne.)

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