According to acting Groton postmaster Wayne McGill, he expects the first big challenge for Groton’s incoming permanent postmaster to be the assimilation of the West Groton Post Office into the Groton Post Office. He anticipates that hours in West Groton will need to be reduced. “It is a challenge to meet the needs of the public, while still being efficient and able to compete in this economic climate. I think people understand the challenges the Post Office is up against and will be more flexible to the likely changes down the road.”
West Groton is one of more than 13,000 post offices across the country that are suffering from a large decline in business, particularly foot traffic — in a nutshell, they are losing money because they don’t have enough customers. The program to figure out how to mitigate the money-losing post office situation was announced in May of this year and moves into a second phase in October.
According to a press release issued by the US Postal service:
The plan would keep the existing Post Office in place, but with modified retail window hours to match customer use. Access to the retail lobby and to PO Boxes would remain unchanged, and the town’s ZIP Code and community identity would be retained.
“Meeting the needs of postal customers is, and will always be, a top priority. We continue to balance that by better aligning service options with customer demand and reducing the cost to serve,” said Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe. “With that said, we’ve listened to our customers in rural America and we’ve heard them loud and clear – they want to keep their Post Office open. We believe today’s announcement will serve our customers’ needs and allow us to achieve real savings to help the Postal Service return to long-term financial stability.”
The new strategy would be implemented over a two-year, multi-phased approach and would not be completed until September 2014. Once implementation is completed, the Postal Service estimates savings of a half billion dollars annually.
Before any changes at all are made, West Groton residents would be surveyed about their preference for the different types of service. About a month after the survey, a public hearing would be held to talk about the results and gather community input. Then a course of action would be decided by the Postal Service’s regional office in Boston.
Postal Service spokesperson Maureen Marion said that no timetable has been announced for the survey or hearing in West Groton yet, other than before May 2014 — when the program will have completed changes in all 13,000 post offices.
According to the press release, “Survey research conducted by the respected Opinion Research Corporation (ORC) in February, showed 54 percent of rural customers would prefer the new solution to maintain a local Post Office. Forty-six percent prefer one of the previously announced solutions (20% prefer Village Post Office, 15% prefer providing services at a nearby Post Office, 11% prefer expanded rural delivery). This strategy would enable a town to possibly have a Post Office with modified hours, as well as a Village Post Office.”