By Katy Savage, Standard Staff
NORTH HARTLAND — Residents who are used to getting their mail at the post office here on Route 5, may have to go elsewhere.
Residents were sent a survey consisting of four questions asking them how they would feel about reduced hours or the closure of the post office all together.
The survey had four options — keep the post office open with different hours; use a carrier to provide retail and delivery services; find another retail location that would be operated by a contractor (usually a local business); or to relocate all post box office delivery to a nearby location and provide box services to that post office.
It’s part of the POST Plan — the U.S. Postal Service’s initiative to reduce the number of post offices and trim expenses as the amount of mail declines. There are currently three post offices in Hartland.
The North Hartland Post Office is part of about 13,000 nationwide that are expected to have their hours cut. Other local post offices to see a reduction in hours locally include Barnard, Bridgewater, Bridgewater Corners and Reading. Some post offices, like Taftsville, have already been cut.
“We look at which offices have the lowest earned workload,” said Melissa Lohnes from the U.S. Postal Service. “We determine that those are probably the offices that we could realign.”
The North Hartland Post Office is currently open for retail hours Monday-Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. The retail hours could be reduced to just four hours per weekday.
Postmaster Charlene Reynolds called it a “disservice to the community” in a letter. She has been a postmaster at North Hartland Post Office for six years and has been working there a total of 16 years.
She wouldn’t comment further by phone, but she said she doesn’t know what she would do if the post office were to close.
Lohnes said she didn’t know the result yet of survey questions, but they would be released at a public hearing Friday at 4 p.m. at the North Hartland Post Office, where local management will answer questions and residents will be able to voice their comments and suggestions.
“Most of the time, people are happy to continue with retail hours,” Lohnes said.
The Postal Service won’t make a decision until seven to 10 days after the public meeting regarding the fate of the post office.
“Really, this strategy is to keep the local post offices open by modifying all the existing hours to reflect the actual demand of our customers in that location,” Lohnes said.