“With chants of 'save our post office”'and signs cleverly stating much the same, the gazebo in Tariffville was the site of a rally to do just that," reports today's Simsbury Patch. "About 50 people turned out on a hot Tuesday night to support each other to continue the efforts to save the local post office, which to this community means much more than mail.”
The post office in Tariffville, Connecticut, was closed on February 4, 2011 for an “emergency suspension.” A heavy snowfall caused concerns about the “structural integrity” of the building and that led to an evacuation. The building had housed the post office for more than fifty years.
As the Simsbury Patch reported at the time, shortly after the suspension, the company that manages the building said the problems had been repaired and the post office should be open for business “tomorrow.” The other tenants returned after just a couple of days, but the Postal Service had "quickly removed the PO boxes and office equipment instead of returning."
The Tariffville post office never re-opened. Instead, the Postal Service initiated a discontinuance process to close the post office permanently. A study to determine whether the post should be closed will soon come to a conclusion. Residents have until July 17 to submit written comments.
Along with the comment form, the Postal Service has made available a document discussing some of the issues. It says that the Tariffville office has no postmaster and is not accessible to people with handicaps, and the Postal Service would save about $60,000 annually by closing it. Residents challenged the Postal Service’s claims that the post office was losing money, and they questioned its argument that postal service provided by a rural or contract carrier would alleviate the need to drive to the post office—since now the residents will have to drive several miles to another post office. (Hartford Courant).
The Postal Service has a history of using “emergency suspensions” like this to close post offices permanently, and the Postal Regulatory Commission has launched an investigation into the practice. As the Wall Street Journal reported in January, the PRC is investigating “whether the postal service has been improperly using reasons such as lease expirations to suspend service and to close many small, rural post offices.” The PRC has been reviewing more than 400 post offices where service was suspended in recent years to determine whether the suspensions were in fact illegal “de facto closings.”
Deputy Selectman Lisa Heavner did a little research to prepare for Tuesday's rally. "Way back in the 1700s, when we had our first postmaster, Benjamin Franklin, it wasn't about making money, it was about binding a nation," said Heavner, who urged residents to write to their legislators. "This is not just about the mail, this is about our community."
(More images at the Hartford Courant and more of everything at Friends of Tariffville Post Office 06081 on Facebook.)