Several actions taken before lawsuit threat made
by Mark Reaman
U.S. Postal Service (USPS) representatives indicated this week that it didn’t take the threat of a lawsuit to make them realize there were major issues hobbling post offices in many rural Colorado communities. And while they feel there have been some improvements made in recent months, staffing is a major problem, as it is for many businesses and organizations, as the lack of available help adds to the stress of operating a post office in some communities.
The town of Crested Butte has organized a coalition of at least seven Colorado communities to hire a law firm to produce a detailed legal analysis regarding the failure of the USPS to provide adequate service to Crested Butte, Avon, Buena Vista, Parachute, Silverthorne, Snowmass Village and Steamboat Springs. The communities have agreed to pay up to $35,000 for the analysis by Denver firm Kaplan Kirsch Rockwell. That legal analysis is expected to take about a month.
“I am unable to comment on pending litigation, however, over the last two months, USPS operations in several Colorado mountain communities have not met our standards,” said James Boxrud, strategic communications specialist with the USPS out of Denver. “Delivery inconsistency, retail lines longer than expected at delivery windows and building cleanliness have all been brought to our attention.”
Boxrud said that several mitigation measures have been implemented where possible to help resolve the issues. He reported that more drivers have been hired to fill vacant routes, USPS employees have been “borrowed” from across the West to augment staff and stabilize deliveries, mail delays have been cleared, facilities have been cleaned, teams have been deployed to assess mountain community delivery to help streamline and improve operations, and multiple hiring fairs have been held in an effort to replenish staffing.
“Thanks to these efforts, all operations have been stabilized and mail is current,” Boxrud said this week.
In Crested Butte, lines at the post office this week were sometimes still lengthy. But local USPS employees have been reported to be delivering some packages to the homes of Crested Butte residents. While there was no response on the matter from Boxrud or to an email sent to the local post office, social media posts indicate that some package deliveries are being made to in-town homes in Crested Butte. One employee told a patron that employees are delivering between 250-400 packages a day in Crested Butte proper.
Colorado’s two U.S. senators, Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper are paying attention to the situation. The two met USPS Postmaster Louis DeJoy this week and urged him to address the ongoing issues. Last month, the senators wrote to DeJoy about ongoing service and delivery issues facing Colorado communities and to invite DeJoy to join them in a tour of a USPS facility in Colorado.
“Postmaster DeJoy committed to improving service quality in Colorado, and I will continue to hold him and USPS to account for making progress,” Bennet said on Tuesday.