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Letter: Community must be involved in post office relocation

Updated 1:50 pm, Friday, September 6, 2013
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It has been almost five years since I retired as New Canaan's Postmaster. Several residents have kept in touch and a few have recently reached out with concerns regarding the post office's pending relocation. Many of you may remember the move of the letter carrier operation to Stamford. It was a difficult transition, but my staff and I worked hard to provide a level of service of which we were very proud. I would like to think we eventually exceeded your expectations.

Relocating any post office is very involved. Location, parking, noise levels and size are just a few issues.

Is it convenient to as many residents as possible? Will there be ample parking? Will the arrival of mail affect nearby neighbors?

Size is perhaps the most important issue of all. Not just the total square footage, but how many retail transaction windows will be provided?

The Postal Service uses a program to calculate every second of every retail transaction to determine the size and staffing of each post office. Each transaction performed at the retail counter is allocated a specific amount of time. For example, purchasing stamps may be allocated one minute 15 seconds.

Sending a priority parcel may be allocated one minute 30 seconds. Yes, transactions are calculated into seconds. Let's say you have a question about your transaction -- oops, too bad -- the system doesn't take that into consideration. At day's end, the transactions are totaled and if an employee spent more time with a customer than the program allocated, the office is considered overstaffed. In a perfect world, if every clerk used the exact time allocated for every customer they served, the program would state you are correctly staffed.

Here's the glitch: The program does not and cannot take into consideration how many customers are standing in line. The result? Long lines at the post office.

Due to this program flaw, most post offices are downsized to a smaller operation than truly needed. Post office transaction windows are reduced, resulting in longer wait times. New Canaan currently has four retail transaction windows.

The flawed data may result in the new office having as few as two transaction windows. Once those retail counters are gone, they aren't coming back.

This is your post office. I encourage you -- go to as many meetings as you can, ask as many questions as you want. Get involved.

Doug Carey

Former New Canaan Postmaster