Douglas Post Office gets a 6-month reprieve

US Postal Service delays closure decisions until spring

The Douglas Post Office has a new lease on life, as the U.S. Postal Service Tuesday announced it would delay any closure decisions for at least five months.

“That’s wonderful,” said Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, a Douglas resident.

The Postal Service, facing huge deficits, has been looking for ways to save money, and targeted dozens small or duplicative Alaska Post Offices in that effort. After objections from the state’s senators and others, the Postal Service earlier had removed the closure list the many small offices that are not on the road system.

Left hanging, however, was the Douglas Post Office and four others in Anchorage and Fairbanks, mostly on military bases.

Now, the Postal Service has announced that any closure decision would be delayed until May 15. That will give Congress time to address the independent agency’s budget, Postal Service spokesmen said.

Alaska’s senators welcomed the announced delay.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, called the action “thoughtful,” and said she hopes and final decision would consider “up-to-date and accurate information and an awareness that Alaska’s geography is different from the Lower 48’s.”

It is also good to give Congress more time for Congress and the agency to figure out ways for the Postal Service to remain solvent, she said.

“I hope this delay allows Congress to negotiate and pass a comprehensive, long-term solution to the Postal Service’s financial stability,” Murkowski said.

Sen. Mark Begich said that during the five-month moratorium on closures, the USPS would continue to study the impact of proposed closures on service and costs, and solicit community input.

Kerttula said that was good news for Douglas.

The Douglas Post Office “is part of the community here, it’s a big part, and we’ve heard some amazing, positive things about it in the discussion already,” she said.

She said she expects any additional review will show the value of the local post office, and a lack of much savings if it were to close.

The delayed decision on closure will help the community make that case, she said.

“It would have been nice to have a final decision, but at least its not bad news,” she said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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