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Not all happy with plans for curb-line mail delivery

A post office plan to install generic black mail boxes forcurb-line delivery is stirring concerns from some historic districtresidents, but postal officials say the move is to improve routedelivery.

Letters sent this week to some postal customers say the newboxes will be installed within the next two weeks at no costs tothe customers.

Brookhaven Postmaster Gary Black said the reason for the changeis to reduce walking time for carriers and to improve safety anddelivery efficiency. It’s quicker to ride than to walk, he said,and a carrier can deliver to one-third more homes by driving aroute.

“The biggest thing is it’s just cheaper,” Black said. “Even withus purchasing the boxes, it’s cheaper.”

Black said the post office is trying to implement curb-linedelivery plans city wide and is starting with the routes that havethe most walking.

The first of the city’s eight routes to be affected includeroutes two, one and five. Route Two is roughly from EnterpriseStreet to Warren Avenue west of the railroad; Route One includesthe area behind Sack and Save and along North Jackson Street, andRoute Five includes the East Washington Street area, Blacksaid.

Black said there is no timetable for completion of the plan.

“We’re going to go slow. We’re going to do it right. We don’twant to aggravate any of our customers,” Black said, adding thatthe post office wanted to give residents time to air their viewsand concerns.

The post office plan is already stirring the emotions of someresidents of the city’s historic residential areas.

Patti Perkins, president of the Brookhaven Trust, said she hasheard from about half the residents on South Jackson Street.

“They’re worried about it not being attractive and taking awayfrom the historic ambiance,” Perkins said.

Perkins said the mail box issue has been put on the Trust’sagenda for discussion at Monday’s 5:30 p.m. meeting at LamptonAuditorium. The Trust would probably discuss some form ofresolution regarding mail boxes in the historic area, she said.

Tom Moak, a South Jackson Street resident known for his tours ofthe historic district, is among those opposed to the mail boxplan.

“We’d rather not see it,” Moak said. “It just wouldn’t look thesame.”

Suzanne Britt, who lives on Chickasaw Street, said that whileshe understands post office desires to improve efficiency, she isconcerned about the boxes being unsightly.

“Aesthetically, it’s going to be horrible,” Britt said.

Black said he has received a couple of calls about mail boxplans, but only two people said they did not want them.

Regarding historic district concerns, Black pointed out thereare already some curb-line delivery mail boxes up in the area. Thehistoric district designation, though, may be a factor in postoffice plans.

“There are certain things we can do in an historic district andcertain things we can’t do,” Black said.

Black agreed with residents in not wanting the city to lookunpresentable or ugly.

However, Black said the post office has to do something to speedup delivery. He said he would like to hear from Trust members andget their input on how to address the issue.

“The more ideas we have, the better it will be,” Black said.

Black said more than half the city’s over 4,000 residentialstops are already set up for curb-line delivery. The post office isaiming for a 90-95 percent conversion, but he some changes will notbe attempted.

Delivery to downtown businesses is expected to remain a walkingroute. Also, door delivery for some customers, such as those whoare shut in or elderly and not able to walk to the street, willcontinue.

“We’re going to take care of the elderly and the people whocan’t get out,” Black said.

Once installed, the new mail boxes can be decorated, Black said.Also, for decorative or security reasons, residents installingtheir own boxes is an option.

“If someone wants added security, they may opt to replace it,”Black said, adding though the city does not have a mail tamperingproblem.

Black said some of the calls he has received have beenpositive.

“The biggest concern we’ve had is that the boxes be on theirside of street so they don’t have to cross the street to get theirmail,” Black said.

Unless there is a one-way street, Black said the post officewould make an effort to accommodate those concerns.