Shifting from 81224 to 81225 and other post office adventures
By Mark Reaman
A group of local residents received a notice this past weekend that they were being subjected to a change in their zip code by the United States Postal Service (USPS). The USPS informed people with PO boxes located in the annex by the Majestic Theatre that they will now have to use the 81225 Mt. Crested Butte zip code instead of the 81224 Crested Butte code. The change officially took effect Monday, January 29, just a few days after the notice was placed in PO boxes.
According to the notice, “…due to a large increase in delivery points in your area, the Postal Service will be changing your Zip Code to properly align with the community. This will enable us to maintain our quality service and delivery standards and deliver your mail more efficiently and provide additional room for new growth in the community for years to come.
Effective 1/29/24, your new Zip Code will be: 81225.
It is important that you begin using your new Zip Code on the effective date. However, we understand that you need time to notify people/businesses with whom you correspond. To make this change as easy as possible, the Postal Service will ensure delivery of your mail with the old Zip Code for one year after the effective date. When purchasing new return address labels or stationary, be sure to use your new Zip Code…”
The shift to providing an option for a free PO box for North Valley postal patrons is part of the driver of the action. To qualify for a free PO Box, the boxholder’s physical address must have the same zip code as the PO box. So, the idea is to get all the Mt. CB boxholders in the same place and tag that place with the Mt. Crested Butte zip code of 81225. The thinking is that then, those who physically live in the 81224 area will shift their box to an appropriate location — currently the Elk Avenue facility or eventually the new post office that will have to be built after the Elk Avenue lease expires in February of 2026. Ultimately, the hope is that the Mt. Crested Butte post office annex could be located somewhere in the town of Mt. Crested Butte.
Initial citizen and town reaction
As the notices were discovered through the weekend, several boxholders expressed concerns to postal officials and the newspaper that having to change their mailing address would be a complexity that didn’t seem necessary.
There was concern that their mailing address would have an 81225 zip code but their physical, shipping address would have an 81224 zip code that could cause future confusion.
If a boxholder simply decides to not change their zip code with current postal users like billing departments, that mail will not be sorted mechanically and will instead have to be sorted by hand which adds to local work times at the post office and would likely slow down that mail delivery.
USPS strategic communications specialist James Boxrud out of Denver was trying to track down an official comment on the situation but as of Wednesday could not provide a comment.
Both Crested Butte town manager Dara MacDonald and Mt. Crested Butte town manager Carlos Velado spoke with local postmaster Anthony Ang about the shift. They will be discussing the move at their respective town council meetings next week.
In MacDonald’s preliminary report to the council, she said that the move was intended to better serve Mt. Crested Butte residents. “This will allow Mt. CB residents to also have access to free boxes and may resolve some of the confusion around sales tax for online purchases,” she informed the council.
“Still working through how this will work for Crested Butte residents who have boxes in the annex and having parcels delivered to homes (other than the local postal staff being aware and vigilant),” her report continued. “CB residents may be faced with alerting their friends, family and business contacts to either a zip code change or changing their PO Box to the Elk Ave. location and alerting friends, family and business contacts to a new PO Box number. Either way, problematic.”
Velado said the shift will result in some clarification for Mt. Crested Butte residents who have PO boxes in Crested Butte. He said town has several times looked for an appropriate space in the town proper to locate a post office facility but given various constraints, dedicating that Majestic Plaza annex to Mt. Crested Butte and the 81225 zip code seems a good step. “Not only will it open the door for some Mt. Crested Butte residents to consider a free post office box, it should help clarify some online sales tax issues that will benefit Mt. Crested Butte,” Velado said.
New CB facility progress?
Meanwhile, the town of Crested Butte has proposed using some town-owned property on Sixth Street across from Gothic Field to relocate the CB Post Office after its Elk Avenue lease expires in early 2026. That idea seemed to be gaining traction but late last year the USPS abruptly pulled away from the negotiations while vetting the costs.
After months of silence from the USPS, the USPS real estate division reconnected with the town last week to propose possible steps forward with the property. The first suggestion was for the town to sell the property to a third party that would build the facility and lease it to the USPS, while a second proposal was to have the town lease the land directly to the USPS and have the postal service develop the site itself and roll all the costs into one basket for the USPS. Town is asking for more details to understand the proposals.
As for the transition to offering free PO boxes to Crested Butte residents, MacDonald’s report said that “USPS is still working through how to offer this change in an efficient manner. About 90 boxes have been converted from paid to free boxes. 102 outstanding letters of approval have been issued but those boxholders have not responded to USPS. Approximately 31 customers have elected to maintain their paid boxes.
“Residents electing to convert to free boxes are issued a refund of up to two years,” the report continued. “Processing these refunds is taking a while and the whole process could be accelerated by not offering these refunds. At the current pace it will take about two years to complete the process of offering all eligible residents free boxes, though USPS is hoping to accelerate the pace.”
And so it continues…