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In a town where the post office is the lone enterprise — other than an aging soft-drink vending machine nestled into a makeshift weathered wood shelter on the highway — the prospect of the Carr post office closing for good has residents worried.
The post office is among some 3,700 the postal service has slated for closure. “That would be a huge loss to the community,” former postmaster Willa Hintergardt said.
Postmaster from 1982 until her retirement in 2008, Hintergardt is gathering signatures on petitions urging the Postal Service to reconsider plans to close the Carr post office.
In addition to losing what is essentially the town’s only community center, she said closure would require residents to travel 18.8 miles to Nunn for any postal transactions requiring a signature.
The small but determined population of Carr on Aug.30 will make their case for retaining the post office they consider essential to preserving the tiny town’s character and survival.
In addition to the U.S. Postal Service officials, representatives of U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner and Weld County Commissioners are expected to attend, according to Hintergardt.
Marcela Juarez Rivera, post office review coordinator for the Colorado-Wyoming region, said it is early in the elaborate process of evaluating post offices in her region identified as candidates for closure.
According to Al DeSarro, spokesman for Postal Service’s western region, 71 post offices in Colorado and 44 in Wyoming are being considered for elimination.
They are among the nearly 3,700 of the 32,000 traditional post offices nationwide under similar scrutiny. Most are in rural area areas with minimal activity, and where costs greatly exceed revenues.
Although the Carr post office is at risk for closure, postal officials stress that any final recommendation is many months — and perhaps much longer — away.
Nearly a third of the postal service’s retail revenues are generated by outlets other than traditional post offices, according to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. “Our customer’s habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business.”
But Hintergardt said that view is shortsighted. She said the post office could take on greater importance and increased activity with the energy development proposed for the area.
As an independent government agency funded entirely by users, DeSarro said the postal service must act like any other business, trying to stanch the bleeding that has resulted in billions of dollars in deficits. DeSarro said that shortfall totaled $8.5 billion in the last fiscal year.
“This is not something we want to do. We have to do it,” he insisted. “We’re really a business.”
DeSarro said studies typically take six to nine months and require an extensive public involvement process including a public hearing and survey of all postal patrons. Juarez Rivera she’s seen some assessments last as long as two years. Some offices, she said, are dropped from consideration for closure during that process.
“Just because a post office is on the list doesn’t mean it will be closed,” DeSarro said. In any event, DeSarro said the postal service will maintain the town name, address and zip code.”
“We don’t want to lose that identity,” he said.
The Postal Service is advocating the Village Post Office as an alternative to any brick-and-mortar ones that might be closed. Under such an approach, an existing business in the affected town could be recruited to sell stamps, flat-rate packaging, and maintain post office boxes.
But without any other businesses in town, it’s unclear how the concept might be applied in Carr.