Getting the mail

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Cape Girardeau post office has stopped asking postal patrons in some parts of the city to relocate their mailboxes. In some cases, postal patrons with mailboxes on their porches had been asked to put up curbside mailboxes. The reason, they were told, was to make it easier for carriers.

Some customers who received this request said they were told they would lose their mail service unless their mailboxes were moved. As a result, mailboxes sprouted up along city streets in several neighborhoods.

But there was a problem. It now appears that both the requests for mailboxes to be moved and the threats of ending mail service violated U.S. Postal Service regulations. Postal service officials say they are re-evaluating the situation, and the requests have been halted.

Now there are hastily erected mailboxes on streets where cars are parked, which means it's still not easy for carriers to get to them, even on foot. Many of the mailboxes make for visual clutter along tree-lined streets.

The desire to make mail delivery more efficient is understandable. That's why the postal service helps plan curbside mailboxes in new subdivisions, usually putting the boxes in groups. But the recent helter-skelter approach, plus the inconvenience and expense of relocating boxes on established routes, was irritating and frustrating to many postal patrons.

If there are going to be changes in mailbox requirements, there should be a unified and well-thought-out plan. Otherwise, moving mailboxes is likely to cause more problems rather than solve them.

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