City proposes consolidating post offices

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 19, 2011

NATCHEZ — Natchez city leaders recently lobbied in Washington, D.C., for a project to consolidate the two U.S. Post Offices in town.

City Engineer David Gardner said the move would be partially in effort to secure one, updated post office facility in the event that Natchez falls victim to recent nationwide U.S. Post Offices closures.

Gardner proposed the current downtown and Tracetown sites be relocated to a brand new building at an unknown location.

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The idea would be to build one, more efficient site that offers streamlined services instead operating the two existing locations.

“Before (the U.S. Postal Service) starts closing our post offices, we want to look at consolidation into one modern office,” he said.

Gardner said reports reveal a startling number of recent post office closures.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported the postal service is cutting costs “by shuttering little-used or redundant post offices as customers increasingly buy postal and other services elsewhere,” the article said.

The article said the U.S. Postal Service suffered a loss of $8.5 billion in its 2010 fiscal year.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told the Washington, D.C., newspaper that 80 percent of U.S. post offices do not cover their costs.

Gardner said 2,000 post offices have been closed this year already, and another 1,600 are under review for closure.

He said he unsure how susceptible Natchez is to closures. The movement does, however, present an opportunity to upgrade the city’s postal services.

The threat of losing one of the post offices in town is something the city cannot ignore, he said.

“Given that we have two post offices, (the trend of closures) may be a chance for us to take an opportunity to perhaps relocate both to a good location,” Gardner said.

Gardner said it is too early to think about where a new location would be.

“I’m not even saying (the project) is going to happen,” he said.

He said a new location ideally will be as close to downtown as possible.

Gardner said perhaps a modern Natchez post office has potential to become a regional office for surrounding counties and parishes that might lose its post offices.

Gardner said legislatures responded that they would give the idea some thought.