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Removal of 13 federal mailboxes from Hagerstown a hardship for seniors

August 22, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- A recent decision by the U.S. Postal Service to remove 13 federal mailboxes from Hagerstown has caused a major inconvenience for some senior citizens.

Mildred St. John, 81, said she used to find it easy to mail letters when one of the mailboxes was just a few yards away from her apartment near the intersection of East Avenue and Mulberry Street. But when the Postal Service recently removed the box, St. John, who cannot drive and wears a leg brace, said it became nearly impossible for her to send out mail.

She said the nearest mailbox now is a few blocks away.

"I can't walk to the post office to drop off mail," St. John said. "All of us are elderly at (the apartment building). It's a hardship."

St. John said about five of her neighbors asked the post office not to remove the mailbox, but they were told it wasn't used enough.

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Yvette Singh, a USPS spokeswoman, said the Postal Service performed a density study on 2,900 mailboxes in the Baltimore District, which includes Hagerstown. Of those mailboxes, 290 were removed because they failed to meet the minimum criteria of receiving 25 letters per day. Singh said 13 of the 60 mailboxes in Hagerstown didn't make the cut.

"They were underutilized and had to be removed," Singh said.

The Postal Service removed the boxes to save on fuel costs associated with mail collection, Singh said. Every time the price of gas increases by 1 cent, it costs the Postal Service an additional $8 million.

"We're trying to make it more cost-effective for the business," she said.

Singh said residents who were affected by the situation are welcome to put their outgoing mail in their mailboxes at home for a letter carrier to collect.

"I won't put mail out for the postman because I just had a package stolen from my mailbox," said Laurel Street resident Mary Haines, whose neighborhood mailbox was among those taken. "A stolen bill payment would do me major damage."

Haines also said she is concerned about crossing through traffic to mail letters at the nearest mailbox on Oak Hill Avenue.

Haines said the solution is simple: Return the mailboxes.

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