by Julie Ann Madden
U.S. Postal officials will be conducting a meeting regarding the Westfield Post Office operations at 4 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 25 at the Westfield Community Center.
A year ago, U.S. Postal Officials had been trying to close many small post offices across the country. However, that decision was put on hold.
“The decision to shorten post office hours has already been approved,” said U.S. Postal Service Corporate Communications Richard Watkins, explaining some area post offices, including Westfield, will not be closed — just hours the retail windows are open will be reduced.
In September, Westfield postal customers were asked to complete a POST Plan survey about their wishes for the Westfield Post Office.
Residents were asked to select one of these four alternatives that they most preferred for their post office:
• Keep the Westfield Post Office open but with realigned weekday window services hours, based on actual office workload.
• Conduct a discontinuance study for the Post Office and provide roadside mailbox delivery. Retail and delivery service would be provided through a rural carrier. Mail delivery points will be established or maintained and customers can purchases most postal services through the carrier or other alternate access points.
• Conduct a discontinuance study for the office and find a suitable alternative location operated by a contractor, usually a business. Businesses will offer stamps and flat rate products with service hours generally more expansive than what the local post office may be able to offer.
• Conduct a discontinuance study for the office and provide P.O. Box service via another nearby post office and relocate P.O. Box delivery to that post office.
The survey noted that realigned retail hours would be two, four or six hours of service, depending on workload and need. Access to the retail lobby and P.O. Boxes would remain unchanged. Zip Codes and community identity would remain unchanged. These post offices would continue to be staffed by postal employees.
The new strategy would be implemented over a two-year, multi-phased approach and would not be completed until September 2014.
In the survey’s accompanying cover letter, it stated the Postal Service will review the survey responses, “and, unless the community has a strong preference (more than 60 percent) for conducting a discontinuance study for the Westfield Post Office and establishing one of the additional sources of services…the Postal Service intends to maintain the Westfield Post Office with 4 hours of window service each weekday. Current Saturday window service hours and access to delivery receptacles will not change as a result of the POST Plan realignment of weekday window service hours.”
At this upcoming Oct. 25 meeting in Westfield, postal officials will reveal the results of POST Plan surveys Westfield postal customers completed recently, said Watkins. In addition, the postal officials will gather more information from those present. Then postal officials will review the information and comments presented before making a final decision.
One week after this meeting (Nov. 1), the final decision regarding changes for the Westfield Post Office will be posted at the post office, said Watkins. However, the changes won’t go into effect until after the first of the new year.
At their Oct. 9 meeting, City Clerk Andrea Westergard informed councilors about this meeting.
City officials had asked if the meeting could be changed to another date as that is also the date of the Westfield Congregational Church of Christ’s annual Harvest Supper. However, Westergard told councilors postal officials refused to change the date. The only option postal officials would consider was to hold the meeting in the post office and not the Westfield Community Center. The councilors’ consensus was to hold the meeting at the Westfield Community Center which is just across the street from the church and much better suited to hold a large group.
Church members will be serving suppers from 5:00 – 7:30 p.m. They felt the meeting will probably be over before the fund-raising supper begins.
In other business, the Council:
• Set Westfield’s Fall Cleanup Days for Nov. 2 – 4. Dumpsters will be available for residents to use.
• Learned Westfield’s water tower was to be inspected Friday, Oct. 12 by Maguire Iron of Sioux Falls, S.D. which conducts water tower inspections.
Therefore, residents would be without water for part of Friday.
Westergard informed the council of the water outage and details of what city officials needed to do in preparation for the water tower inspection.
• Turned down an option for the demolition of the Westfield Community School building. A person had offered to tear down the building in exchange for the land. However, councilors felt the land was worth way more than the demolition costs would be.
Their consensus was to have the city’s attorney, Scott Bixenman of Le Mars, write the property owner a letter, giving him a certain time period in which to secure the dilapidated building or the city would do so and bill him.
• Had a request to remove excess pea gravel from Railroad Drive before snowfall so that homeowners weren’t left with it in their yards come Spring.
• Had a report from Westergard that review of the city’s Codification laws was still ongoing.
• Was informed water hydrant flushing is done every Spring and Fall. Therefore, it would need to be done soon.
• Note Mayor Bill Hummel signed the 2011-2012 Fiscal Year Financial Report for submission to state officials.