An Open Letter to the U.S. Postal Service

From the Selectboard, Town of Wendell, MA

June 26, 2014

To The U.S. Postal Service:

The Wendell Post Office is currently facing possible reduced hours or elimination by the U.S. Postal Service.

The USPS has scheduled a public forum on the future of the Wendell Post Office on Tuesday, July 8 at 1:00pm at the Wendell Town Hall.

We request that the USPS reschedule this planned public forum to an evening time that will be more accessible to local residents.

In addition, we request that the hours of the Wendell Post Office be retained in full. We also request that the position of a full-time postmaster be retained in Wendell.

The Wendell Post Office is central to our local economy and helps to keep the hub of our rural town center alive. When people come to the Wendell Post Office, they spend money in Wendell at our local country store, restaurant and weekly farmer´s market, which are all located next door. After stopping at the Post Office, they often go on to visit the Wendell Public Library, Senior Center/Community Center, Town Offices and recycling center.

The central location of the Wendell Post Office means for many people it's "on the way" to work, to school, to shop, and to visit friends and family. In addition, it's very easy to access with good parking on a main road.

The Wendell Post Office is a regional "rural hub" post office serving residents beyond the town of Wendell. Residents from sections of adjacent towns of New Salem, Warwick, Montague, Shutesbury and Orange (where there is no post office, or where post offices have greatly reduced hours and service, or where people live geographically closer to the center of Wendell) frequent the Wendell Post Office.

Our small businesses in town rely on the post office for the operation of their businesses. We have a large number of people in Wendell who do not have rural mail delivery available and depend on the post office to conduct business. The Post Office sees significant traffic during all the hours it is open.

One small business owner reports, " Personally, I require a safe, reliable way to send and receive packages and I must be able to do this every day in order to conduct certain aspects of my business. Leaving postal items at a mailbox on the main road, a half-mile from my house won't do. The Wendell Post Office is very important to the economic and social life of our town."

The lack of high-speed internet broadband availability in rural towns like Wendell means people rely more on the post office. One resident reports that she buys presents for grandchildren then mails them, because she cannot order on-line and have them delivered.

A decrease in the hours or potential closure of the Wendell Post Office will have a harmful effect on our local economy. Not only will it have a direct impact in bringing in less money to the Wendell economy, it will force local residents to drive longer distances, and therefore cost our residents more for similar services and economic activities outside of our community.

We were shocked to learn that that U.S. Postal Service has already made plans to eliminate the position of a full-time postmaster in Wendell in advance of a scheduled USPS public forum on July 8 on the future of the Wendell Post Office. This action by the USPS flies in the face of democratic public input into this matter.

We request that Charlie O´Dowd remain as postmaster and that his hours and benefits be retained in full. Wendell Postmaster Charlie O´Dowd is a beloved part of our community that he has served for nearly 25 years, during which time he has received over 20 awards from the USPS.

Charlie has gone above and beyond his job description to serve the residents of Wendell and surrounding communities. When Wendell was struck by a tornado several years ago, and the postal mail truck couldn't get through, Charlie delivered the mail in his own car to make sure the mail went out.

Charlie provides custom service to local residents by calling them up to let them know when they have packages awaiting their pick up at the post office. Our local farmers depend on Charlie´s custom handling and knowledge about the fragile nature of poultry chicks, turkeys, racing pigeons, and bees. One local farmer reports that before switching to the Wendell Post Office, one-third of their chicks died because of lack of proper handling and quick attention.

During his tenure as postmaster, Charlie also introduced numerous popular services (which increased the revenues of the Wendell Post Office) to address latent demand - services that were not being met in the community, including offering passport photos, copying and fax services, bulk mailing services and advanced deposit accounts for small businesses, and Fed Ex and UPS drop-off and pick up services. (It should be noted that most of these services, (excluding the Fed Ex and UPS drop-off/pickups), have been eliminated by regional USPS policies, which have had a negative financial impact on the Wendell Post Office.)

Charlie O´Dowd gives the USPS a good reputation and it would be a severe personal loss to our community if he were unable to continue as our postmaster due to changes in USPS policies.

We respectfully look forward to your assistance on this urgent matter.

Sincerely,

The Wendell Selectboard
Christine Heard, Chair
Daniel Keller
Jeoffrey Pooser


Note: Similar letters were also sent to:

US Representative Jim McGovern -
US Senator Elizabeth Warren -
US Senator Ed Markey -
State Senator Stanley C. Rosenberg -
State Representative Denise Andrews -
David Mastroianni, District Manager, Connecticut Valley District, United States Postal Service -
Joe Conti, Post Office Operations Manager, United States Postal Service -

A copy of this letter can downloaded as a PDF file at the URL http://www.wendellmass.us/index.php/home/remository/other-tow/WendellSelectboardOpenLettertoUSPS-WendellPOFuture6.26.14.pdf/.

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