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The Postal Regulatory Commission signed and delivered the fate of the Fairfield Post Office Feb. 9 with a split decision. In the event of a split, the commission sides with the Postal Service’s decision. The decision means the post office’s retail services will end on Friday, May 18.
The contention between the citizens of Fairfield and the U.S. Postal Service continued for more than a year and all avenues of appeal have been exhausted.
Many people have bought post office boxes at the Bloomfield post office less than four miles from the city, according to Fairfield Mayor Tom Trent, in anticipation of the closing.
“It’s a case of big government pushing people around and getting what they want,” Trent said. “When we appealed we told them the numbers they used as grounds for closing were wrong.”
According to numbers from U.S. Post Office Review Coordinator Tim Reynolds, the post office revenue was $15,921 with expenses of $40,842 for 2011.
“When we had a postmaster there in 2009, by today’s standards their salary would cost us $70,000 aside from other expenses,” Reynolds said. “’The postal service is losing about $24 million a day and, according to figures from the post master general, that is a $14.1 billion loss annually.”
Saturday deliveries will discontinue by 2013 unless an alternative is found, Reynolds said. Reynolds attributes the drop in revenue to the widespread use of email for correspondence and online bill payment options.
“We want to remain committed to the Fairfield community. Their addresses will not change and the plan for now is to keep the post office boxes inside the property after we sell it,” Reynolds said.
The U.S. Postal Service actually owns the land and the building where the Fairfield post office boxes are located. A buyer for the property and the postal service are currently in contractual negotiations. The prospective owner will lease the space for the boxes to the postal service.
Citizens’ concerns focus more on safety and identity and not necessarily the post office’s services.
“If I get a mailbox with a rural carrier, my address could change with a Cox’s Creek carrier or Bloomfield,” Trent said. “This could potentially cause confusion for 911 services if they are looking for your house. This could also affect new businesses moving to Fairfield.”
Former Fairfield Mayor Mary Ellen Marquess used to be a mail carrier and when Nelson County implemented 911, the postal service was involved.
“The postmaster rode with the rural carrier and a road department employee and it was a measurement system,” Marquess said. “You would measure the routes from the beginning of your route and determine the house numbers by the distance from your origin. If the people didn’t like the name, sometimes citizens used the oldest person on the road.”
Physical addresses for 911 calls are allocated by the planning and zoning commission, according to Nelson County Dispatch, and can be changed if necessary.
“This change won’t affect anyone’s physical address with 911,” Reynolds said. “We (the postal service) don’t have any part in the physical addresses citizens have with their local 911 services — no one gives a P.O. box number when calling for an emergency.”
Physical addresses for emergency services won’t change, but whether the identity of Fairfield, which had its first postmaster in 1818, is lost will depend on its citizens.