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Hamburg outlines policy on replacing mailboxes knocked down by plows

It was only about 12 inches, but after the first major snowfall of the winter last week, the Town of Hamburg started getting complaints about mailboxes being clipped by snowplows.

And in this age of social media, the Highway Department decided to lay out its policy on its Facebook page, so residents would know what to expect.

“It must be pointed out that there is not statutory or legal authority which grants a property owner or resident along a public highway any right to place a mailbox in the highway right-of-way,” states the policy.

But it turns out the town will replace the mailbox if a town plow knocks it down, even though it is not obligated to do so, according to Highway Superintendent Tom Best Sr. But the town will not replace or repair damaged boxes that still can be used.

“We will replace the mailbox if it’s knocked down to the point the mail will not be delivered,” Best said.

Best said there were reports of about 20 mailboxes being knocked down by plows cleaning up the Jan. 1 snowstorm. On further inspection, some mailboxes were dented, or missing a front door. They won’t get replaced.

The replacement will consist of both a pole and a mailbox, he said. In the past, the town would buy a 4-by-4 wooden post and install a new mailbox on top of it. The wood alone for the $75 mailbox used to cost $30, he said. Now, the town buys a steel pole, which cost $9, and installs a plain mailbox on top of it. It’s about half the cost, Best said.

Only mailboxes on town roads mowed down by town plows will be replaced, he said.

Some of the comments on the Facebook post were not kind.

“What snowplow?” one resident asked.

“They should replace and get drivers who know how to use the plow,” said another.

A helpful hint was offered the Hamburg Highway Facebook page: “We have found that plastic mailboxes do not withstand the abuse of snow from plows hitting them and are not recommended.”