U.S. Rep. John Salazar has thrown his support behind a Durango woman's campaign to avoid a break in service when the U.S. Postal Service closes two satellite stations in the city."My office has been told by Denver-based U.S. Postal Service officials that it is their intention to reopen contract stations in similar locations within two to three months," Salazar, D-Manassa, said Monday in a statement. "I would like to request that the Postal Service keep the existing contract stations in operation or explore other options to avoid a gap in service for Durango residents."
The satellite locations at north Main Avenue and inside the Durango Mall are scheduled to close April 18. Joan Harriger, the agency's consumer affairs manager for Colorado and Wyoming, said Monday that she understands what the loss of convenient post offices means for residents, but the agency is bound by certain guidelines.
"We have to abide by our rules and regulations," Harriger said by telephone. "We've asked for bids from people who want to open a contract station, but so far we've had one inquiry."
Harriger didn't know if the inquiry was about one or both of the existing stations or a brand new location. She said in February that it would be logical to open new stations near the existing ones for the convenience of the public.
The move to a computerized system is a response to the agency's deficit operation. The Postal Service operated $2.8 billion in the red in 2008. It handled 202 billion mailed items that year, down about 9 billion from the year before.
Tony Martinez, who operated the Durango stations as well as three similar contract stations in Grand Junction for seven years, said in February that converting to the Postal Service's national Computer Access Retail, or CAR, system would be untenable financially.
As soon as she learned of the impending closure of the mini-post offices, Nancy Cumming started circulating petitions to keep the stations open until replacements were in place. Cumming works at United Blood Services, located in Bodo Park across U.S. Highway 550/160 from the south satellite post office. Both she and the agency use the office.
Cumming said Monday she turned over petitions bearing 1,600 signatures to Salazar's office. She expects to have 400 more signatures by the end of the week.
"I don't know why they can't operate month-to-month until they find new locations," Cumming said. "I wish they (the Postal Service) would talk to me more."
Cumming said Martinez told her he'd be willing to keep the stations open until replacements are found if it doesn't mean a reduction in his income.
Salazar said he knows the Postal Service wants to open new contract stations as soon as possible.
"But with so much community concern over the closure for even a short time, it would be helpful to prevent a break in service," Salazar said.
To which Cumming said: "Amen to that."