My Turn: Douglas' post office is needed

The Postal Clause was added to the Constitution primarily to facilitate interstate communication, as well to create a source of revenue for the early United States. The Clause has been construed to give Congress the enumerated power to designate mail routes and construct or designate post offices, with the implied authority to carry, deliver, and regulate the mails of the United States as a whole. Clearly the Postal Service has the power to close the Douglas post office, but this is not the right decision.

The Postal Service must pay attention and be accountable — but that doesn’t mean it should operate exactly like a business. As a part of our government, the mission is service, not profit.

As the U.S. Postal Service considers closure of the Douglas post office, I encourage the priority ranking of factors — the least of which is profit. The most important is service: The reviewers must consider the hardship they create on citizens, especially our senior and disabled citizens, ease of access to comparable services and the effect of decisions on those with lesser resources when they can not easily and inexpensively go to the post office to find out postal costs, to receive their mail or to mail a package. In our community this means the ability to walk to the service during inclement weather, to have access to parking if you have a vehicle, and for our seniors and disabled to not need to wait in line for extended periods and to be served by willing and ready employees who have built a relationship over time. This is the essence of the Douglas post office.

There is no other viable alternative in our community. We can not reasonably walk to the Juneau post office, parking is not readily available, they do not provide service on Saturdays for those of us who work an alternative schedule (usually those lower income jobs), the lines are long and there is no personal relationship built with the customers. Hours are not provided that allow commuters who are working to access postal services and still be at home to care for parents, children and family members within a reasonable time.

The postal service in Douglas is a community service and that level of service is not available to Douglas residents at other post offices in the City and Borough of Juneau. So, if they must cut costs or increase revenues for this postal service, I offer some alternatives to closure:

1. Reduce operational hours by opening later in the day;

2. Eliminate Saturday services;

3. Increase box rents;

4. Seek grants to reduce space operational costs from the City and Borough of Juneau, Juneau Community Foundation, United Way, Housing First, Southeast Senior Services, or a like local foundation;

5. Establish a volunteer community postal service corps under the supervision of trained postal workers to reduce costs; or

6. Establish a contract postal station.

Closing this postal office will not increase revenues or reduce costs. Costs of mail delivery will only shift to rural route carriers. Receipt of parcels at the Juneau post office will be a problem for all of the reasons stated above. Revenue from box rental will be eliminated. Alternative post offices in our community are not an effective option. Please reconsider this decision and look at other options that will retain most services and possibly reduce costs at the same time. Let me be the first to volunteer hours to work at the Douglas post office as a part of the volunteer community postal service.

• Frank is a resident of Douglas.

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