Curbside mailboxes not mandatory, P.O. reaffirms



About a month ago, the Hills?boro Post Office asked customers to consider curbside mailboxes as a way of keeping costs down. But the request is not mandatory.

Postmaster Becky Larson said curbside mailboxes are voluntary request, with a few exceptions.

?Putting in a curbside mailbox is a voluntary change, and is a way for customers to be proactive,? Larson said Friday.

Since the first appeal was made tin early August, more than 50 curbside mailboxes have been ?flagged,? she said.

?We have had a very good response,? she said, ?and we want to thank those customers who have already added a curbside box.?

For those who have made the change, Larson wanted to remind them to remove their old mailbox and be sure to add their address on the new curbside box.

?We will be having new mail carriers delivering next week, and it could be confusing if there are two mailboxes,? she said.

Some older postal customers have expressed concern about going to a curbside mailbox in slippery weather.

Larson said individuals with special needs should alert her office about their situation.

?If and when a situation should change, we could then revert back to curbside,? she said.

Another concern expressed by residents has to do with parked cars and how the mail carrier will maneuver around the cars to get to the curbside box.

Larson said even if cars are parked near the curbside box, the carrier?s walking distance is still shorter than if he or she were going door to door.

Many people have inquired about the new mailboxes, but Larson said she encourages patrons to express their questions or concerns.

?The post office doesn?t want this to be confusing,? she said.

Another reason Larson hopes residents will take advantage of the voluntary program now is so customers have some latitude on where they can place the box.

If curbside delivery would be mandated by the post office, she said, customers would not be able to make certain choices.

?The post office would choose for them,? she said.


Building permit required

Ben Steketee, Hillsboro building and code-enforcement officer, said the city requires a $5 permit for curbside mailboxes.

Applications, he said, can be downloaded online by visiting the city?s website, but the form and payment would need to be filed at Hillsboro City Hall.

Steketee said curbside mailboxes fall under the building code because they are something installed on property.

For more information about building permits, call 620-947-3162.

Why curbside delivery?

A recent USPS self-initiated audit reviewed delivery options concluded that if customers nationwide went with a curbside mailboxes, the Postal Service would save about $4.5 billion a year.

Another type of delivery option mentioned in the audit was a clustered-type mailbox that could be mounted on a wall or shelter with an additional $5.1 billion in savings to USPS.

Larson said the cost to install this type of delivery option with the free-standing, pedestal-mounted cluster box would be about $1,200 per box to USPS.

Of the three delivery options, Larson said she thinks the curbside would be the most cost-effective for the customer and safest and easiest for the mail carriers.

Why not wait?

With more than 130 postal facilities in Kansas added for possible closure in the near future, she said, the Hillsboro Post Office wanted to look at ways to save money and steps for its mail carriers.

Currently, the only customers who are required to have curbside boxes are new residents. But if every household agreed to do this, it would prevent potential problems in the near future.

?By delivering mail from a (postal) vehicle,? Larson said, ?we can be faster, more efficient and safer as we make our daily rounds.?

The major reason Larson is urging Hillsboro residents to comply is because the Postal Service is in ?dire financial straits.?

Currently, Lehigh?s post office is being studied and could close in 2012. Post offices in Durham and Florence were added to the study list in late July.

What would it cost?

Depending on the type of curbside mailbox, Larson said, the cost varies. The cheapest mailbox and post would start at about $50 to $60, plus the $5 building permit, she said.

Another way to minimize the cost of a mailbox might be to place a box with your neighbor?s on one post at the property line between both houses, she said.

Before postal customers decide to install a mailbox at the curb, Larson said they must first call ?Dig Safe? at 800-344-7233 before digging to make sure no underground cables or other lines are disturbed.

?We will also be happy to flag the location of your mailbox if you notify your carrier or call us,? she said.

Requirements for a curbside mailbox, Larson said, is that receptacles should be about 6 inches back from the curb and 42 inches from the bottom of the box to the road surface.

For more information, call Larson at 620-947-3631, or customers can talk with their mail carrier.

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