Residents in Wales were powerless when their general store closed a few months ago, but they’re hoping that their voices will keep the Wales Center Post Office from meeting a similar fate.
The post office branch is one of thousands across the United States under consideration for closing or a reduction in hours. If residents in Wales Center get their way, their branch will stay open, but with fewer daily hours.
Results of a survey, mailed to all 123 customers in the 14169 ZIP code, were announced at a special meeting Tuesday in Town Hall.
The survey asked if residents preferred a “realignment of hours,” a delivery option using rural carriers or highway contract routes, creating a village post office, or merging with a nearby post office.
Elma Postmaster Michael T. Weimer, who serves as the area’s postal plan coordinator, said the U.S. Postal Service received 54 replies, with 38 preferring the realignment. Seven others said they would accept the delivery option, while no one favored the other two options. Nine respondents didn’t indicate a preference.
Only one resident was on hand for the results, which Weimer said wasn’t too surprising. “Every community is unique. If they’re more accepting, it’s because they understand that it’s a business; we are no longer a tax-receiving entity,” Weimer said. “Postage is declining, and costs are rising.”
With most people turning to the Internet to exchange information, the postal service has been losing billions of dollars in lost mail revenue and has been forced to make changes.
“We cut administrative positions and mail processing centers, to name a few,” Weimer said. “It’s still not fixing it.”
When Congress turned down a plan to close 10 percent of its post offices, the Postal Service turned to downsizing about a third of its post offices. In Western New York, that’s happening to 176 local branches, Weimer said.
Based on the survey results, the Postal Service will likely keep the Wales Center Post Office open but only from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, a reduction from the current hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday operating hours of 10 a.m. to noon would not change.
However, the Postal Service has the final say.
“We’re just hoping that we get the right hours, the few that we’ll have,” said resident Shirley A. Donnelly.
One option that has been gaining popularity across the United States is a village post office, which is typically operated out of a local retailer or library. In Wales Center, that wasn’t an option since the only general store and restaurant closed earlier this year.
Council Member Jude A. Hartrich said that was a big blow to the area, especially for the elderly and those who can’t drive to East Aurora for groceries.
“They carried the staples, and they had a grill for those who didn’t want to cook,” Hartrich said. “There are a lot of residents who don’t drive and quite a few in the mobile home court who don’t drive.”
There are three other post offices within seven miles of the Wales Center branch: East Aurora, 5.7 miles away; Marilla, 6 miles; and South Wales, 6.9 miles.