Jeff Sands, left, of the United States Postal Service talks to residents in Essex about changing the hours of operation for their post office.
Just a little more than a week after United States Postal Service Regional Representative Jeff Sands was in New Russia to talk about the future of their site, he returned to Essex County and the hamlet of Essex.
Sands told those assembled in the lobby of the Essex Port Office Jan. 30 that the site would remain open, but with fewer hours during weekdays.
Currently, The office is open from 8 a.m. until noon and 1 to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, with hours from 8 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays. Under the new proposal, the office would keep the same hours Saturday but only be open six hours on weekdays, from 8:15 a.m. until 12:15 p.m., and from 2:45 to 4:45 p.m.
Sands said that the changes were preliminary and required official finalization from the USPS, which he felt would happen.
"Unless we wanted to do something drastic, they usually approve these recommendations," Sands said. "This would take effect in March or April."
Like New Russia, the Postal Service sent out surveys to 356 customers, 111 of which were returned. Out of those, all but 10 asked for a realignment of hours, while eight sought a delivery options, one sought the nearby office option and another made no selection.
"We were telling people that we were considering the option of closing post offices when we had meetings last year," Sands said. "Luckily, the Postal Service re-evaluated and started looking at the amount of customer transactions and the amount of mail going through facilities. Every post office was evaluated the same, so Essex had the same evaluation system as a post office in California."
Residents expressed concerns over the nearby post office list that was presented, which gave the option of neighbor Willsboro (4.4 miles away), but also options of Charlotte (5.6 miles) and North Ferrisburgh, Vt. (9.58 miles), each of which would require a trip across Lake Champlain.
"I don't think they realize there is a lake between here and Vermont," one person commented.
Sands said that they would include that fact in their final report. He added that USPS would be looking at the option of keeping the lobby open 24 hours a day, with landlord approval.
All this, Sands said, was being done because of the financial crisis that is facing the Postal Service.
"In the Albany District, we had seven different location where we would process and cancel mail and in a couple of months we will be down to only two," he said. "It is all coming to a culmination where we have to make some changes."