Tulsa Post Offices makes national news, reviewed for closure

WASHINGTON — Two postal offices in Tulsa are among eight in the state that the U.S. Postal Service is reviewing for closure.

There are about 700 postal stations and branch offices nationwide that are under the fiscal microscope to determine if they are cost-effective locations.

USPS spokesman Greg Frey said that a case has been filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission for an advisory opinion on whether the reductions should take place, in part as a result of a weakened economy.

In Oklahoma, the Whittier and Gilcrease stations are on the hit-list. Elsewhere in the state, seven locations in Oklahoma City are being reviewed for closure.

Frey stressed it was a working document, so some locations could be removed from the list.

Small post offices wouldn’t be affected by this round of closures, according to Frey. "Our goal is to not cut off access to the postal service," he said.

The list of locations included in the latest filing was scaled down from more than 3,000.

Frey said seeking commission guidance was necessary, since it regulates branches and stations differently than post offices.

Stringent rules govern post offices, while it’s unclear when stations and branches can be consolidated or closed. So, Frey stressed the fate of locations on the current list isn’t sealed. "It was meant to be an end-all list.

It was a snapshot of the review," he said. Each site’s productivity was surveyed. The postal service is slated to file a status report at month’s end.

The list should be pruned even more by then. Frey again stressed that doesn’t mean doors would close immediately. "Once it gets in that phase, it’s still not over," he said.

Community input process would be sought, if a station or branch proves to merit more review.

Data and public input would be factors in any decision, according to Frey. A district manager would evaluate formal in-depth studies and customer comments.

If closure is deemed appropriate, the decision would be filed at the national headquarters.

A public notice would be filed 60 days prior to the planned closure. With that said, a consolidation or closure—by 2010—is unlikely, according to Frey.

"We’re looking at every way possible to live within our means," Frey said. Technology and the recession have precipitated a decline in first class mail across the board.

Frey noted the postal service entered into an agreement with its postal carriers union to update routes.

That’s translated into 10,000 fewer routes. Customers’ changing habits are also a factor. It seems 30 percent of postal retail transactions aren’t completed in stations or branches. Rather, they’re being done at ATMs or in supermarkets.

The Internet has changed the retail landscape as well.
Last Updated ( Friday, 21 August 2009 )