The United States Postal Service’s recent announcement it will cease Saturday delivery of mail in August is only the latest effort to cut costs. Post office locations across western New England are facing potential closing, or more likely, reduced operating hours.
Some 38 small post offices in Western Massachusetts are on a nationwide list of post offices facing cost-cutting measures ranging from cuts in operating hours to outright closing. In a process that began last summer, residents in the affected communities—which include Lenoxdale, Ashley Falls, Plainfield, ShuteSbury [Shutes-berry] and Middlefield—are being invited to public discussions to weigh in on potential remedies, such as reducing counter hours, or even moving some functions to nearby businesses that remain open to the public longer hours than the post office would.
The most popular option, according to northeast USPS spokesperson Christine Dugas, is a simple reduction in operating hours.
“What we heard from our customers was that they would prefer to keep the rural post offices open even if it meant they would have to do so at reduced hours.”
Almost all of the affected post offices currently have counter staff available eight hours a day. The proposal is to cut those down to 6, 4 or 2 hours. Residents typically can still access post office boxes after hours.
The next community meetings about western Massachusetts post offices will be at Hatfield Town Hall on February 20th, and the National Spiritual Alliance in Lake Pleasant the same afternoon.