Villagers worry postal cuts are beginning of end

Residents of Salisbury Cove village pack into their tiny post office Jan. 16 to protest a planned reduction of hours at the facility. Residents of other Mount Desert Island villages were equally displeased with the U.S. Postal Service’s plans to cut window hours. Regina Bugbee, center, conducted the session.

BAR HARBOR — Window hours at village post offices in Salisbury Cove, Seal Cove, Bernard and Seal Harbor will shrink to just four hours a day on weekday afternoons and three hours on Saturday mornings, residents of those villages were told in a series of meetings this week.

A United States Postal Service (USPS) representative held a meeting recently at each affected post office to tell residents of the proposed cuts and to explain the reasoning behind them. The Hulls Cove post office was slated to hold a meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m.

The USPS is losing $25 million a day, said Regina Bugbee of the USPS. Out of 32,000 post offices nationally, 26,000 do not meet their own expenses. Shrinking hours at small post offices will help save an estimated $500 million annually.

In Seal Harbor, where people can now buy stamps or send packages on weekdays from 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. – except for 45 minutes at lunchtime – the plan is to have the retail window open only from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. On Saturdays, retail hours would continue to be 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

The other village post offices face similar cutbacks to afternoon-only hours. Morning hours are not really an option, Ms. Bugbee said, because someone must be there to send the mail out in the afternoon.

Plans for several of the post offices call for a 24-hour lobby, so residents would continue to be able to access their P.O. boxes during the morning hours.

Post offices on Cranberry Island, Islesford and Swans Island also face reduced hours but will stay open at least six hours a day, after a request to the USPS from Maine Congressional Representatives Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree. Those island post offices were granted special status that will ensure their continuity with minimum reduced hours.

For more of the latest news, pick up a copy of the Mount Desert Islander.

Fenceviewer Staff

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