USPS eyeing closure of Clemons office

R esidents in the hamlet of Clemons may have to drive down to Whitehall or meet their delivery carrier for all their mailing needs if a recent proposal to close the Clemons post office is approved.

The U.S. Postal Service has been studying the closure of the post office for the last several months and although they have yet to come to a final decision, they have determined that the advantages of closing outweigh the disadvantages.

If they do indeed close, all retail services would be provided by rural route carriers or be available at the post office in Whitehall.

The primary reasons the office is being studied for closure are the postmaster position has been vacant since February of 2010 and the office has experienced a low volume of business.

According to the study, the retail window averaged eight transactions per day, accounting for approximately eight hours of retail workload daily.

Between postmaster salary and benefits, and annual lease costs, the office cost the postal service $49,079, although the office took in just $15, 187 in the 2008 fiscal year; $14,607 in the 2009 fiscal year; and $12,431 in 2010.

After factoring in the cost of replacement service, officials concluded that they could save $44,941 annually.

Other factors that were considered were the effect on community and employees.

It was determined that the discontinuance of service at the Clemons office wouldn’t adversely affect the community and because there was no postmaster, no other employees would be affected.

As part of the study, 38 questionnaires were distributed to delivery customers of the Clemons Post Office and nine were returned with one favorable response regarding the potential closure, five unfavorable, and three who expressed no opinion.
Officials were also available at the Whitehall Post Office to answer questions in May during which time eight customers attended and expressed their concerns.

Several customers were concerned about having to travel to another post office for service but were told that many of the services provided at the post office could be provided by their carrier, including the delivery and pickup of packages.

The purchase of stamps could be done by mail order.

There was also some question as to why Clemons Post Office was being studied for closure while the Huletts Landing office wasn’t.

Officials said the Huletts Landing office serves more customers and has an incumbent Postmaster. They also explained the Whitehall office would be the alternate service location for patrons of the Clemons office because the terrain is less difficult to navigate despite being more than two miles further.

Some residents also expressed a concern regarding the loss of community identity but were told the Clemons name and zip code would continue to be used.

A final decision regarding the proposed closure has not been made but will be posted at the office when it is.

After a final determination is posted, customers will have 30 days to appeal the decision.

The Postal Service, which operates about 36,000 offices nationwide, has proposed the consolidation or closure of 2000 stations and branches across the country this year to help save the cash-strapped organization money.

The Postal Service lost nearly $8.5 in the 2010 fiscal year and the number of deliveries has continued to decline over the last five years due to increase reliance on electronic mail and the recession which has decreased the volume of advertising mail.

Rural post offices have been especially affected and several branches in the Adirondacks have been closed or tagged for closure.

The post office in Clemons is one of two in the township of Dresden, the other being in Huletts Landing.

 Copies of the proposal are available at the Clemons, Huletts Landing and Whitehall Post Offices.

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