Efforts stall to open new Eastside post office
Saturday, April 14, 2012
EAST WENATCHEE — Even the mayor here is feeling the post office pinch.
Mayor Steve Lacy, an attorney in his day job, said he’s stuck with stacks of obsolete stationery now that the city’s only official postal station shut down two months ago. His legal office rented a postal box at the old location, an address that’s no longer valid.
“Can’t use this stuff anymore,” he said of the letterhead. “Even worse, it’s a constant reminder that we don’t have a real post office anymore.”
And it’s likely to stay that way, postal officials said Friday, unless a local business in this city of more than 13,000 steps forward to house a “contract postal unit,” a type of in-store post office that offers most mail services.
“We were hoping someone would step up and take it over,” said Wenatchee Postmaster Dannelle Kraude. “But they didn’t. Right now, East Wenatchee has no official postal presence.”
In March, 11 local businesses had responded to a call for bids by the U.S. Postal Service for a new contract mail facility on the eastside. Each received a 45-page document that included a long list of requirements for handicapped access, hours of operation, safety and security, performance standards and other criteria.
At the time, Kraude warned businesses not to take the bidding process lightly. “There’s lots to consider,” she said. Contract facilities aren’t huge profit centers in themselves, added the postmaster, but can dramatically increase foot traffic through a store if placed strategically.
But no one bit, said Kraude. “We were encouraged by the initial response but, in the end, I guess no one felt it’d be worth their while.”
Kraude surmised that business owners could have been daunted by paperwork, regulations and the expense to bring a location into compliance with federal rules and policies.
Lacy mentioned the city’s postal dilemma Tuesday in his report to the City Council, but stressed later that it’s highly unlikely the city would spend public funds to renovate city office space into a contract post office.
“At this point, it’s really a question of getting a business interested in hosting (a contract facility),” he said. “Here’s hoping someone, somewhere has some interest.”
Also, with the downtown post office in Wenatchee just 1.8 miles away — even closer as the crow flies — it’s unlikely East Wenatchee would get it’s own real, separate post office, Kraude noted in March. The distance isn’t really that far when officials start mapping post offices, she said.
East Wenatchee lost its 52-year-old contract post office on Feb. 25 when the pharmacy that housed the mail center closed its doors. Pharmacy owners had decided to move drugstore operations to the city’s new Walgreens which had opened three weeks earlier. A walk-in medical center, also displaced, reopened quickly in a new location.
Currently, most mail services are available at the city’s UPS Store, 331 Valley Mall Parkway. Patrons can purchase stamps, mail packages and rent an in-store mailbox with 24-hour access.
Except for stamp purchases, pricing at the UPS Store differs from regular postal facilities in that a small surcharge is added to most services.
Mike Irwin: 665-1179
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