Richland post office might relocate

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 26, 2013 

The Richland post office on Jadwin Avenue might soon relocate to a smaller space nearby -- a move one postal official said is needed to save money at a time when revenues are falling sharply.

A new location hasn't been found. But Ernie Swanson, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said his agency is looking for a building that's as close to the existing site as possible "because customers are used to coming there."

There's no timeline for a move, although "we're hopeful it will happen in a fairly timely manner," he said. It depends on finding a new location.

The post office today is in leased space, Swanson said, and there's excess room since the postal service moved letter carriers to the West Richland Post Office about 11/2 years ago.

He said a relocation would involve some one-time costs, such as making any needed changes to the new facility, "but in the long-run we're confident it would save money."

He didn't have an estimate of how much.

John Michael Wald, president of the local American Postal Workers Union, said he's concerned about the impact of a relocation on customer service and staffing levels. And, he said, he's skeptical a move would save money because of the expense involved in relocating.

"There's a huge security component needed for a post office," he said. "If you just consider where we're at now -- we've got the infrastructure, the security; it's where we've been for so long."

He pointed out there no proposed location or plan detailing the savings. "It would be different if there were more details," he told the Herald.

Wald said five employees work at the Jadwin Avenue post office. Swanson said no employees would lose their job due to a relocation.

The public can weigh in on the potential move by submitting written comments to Russ Rainey, HQ Facilities Field Office, 7500 E. 53rd Place, Room 1108, Denver, CO 80266-9918.

They will be accepted until March 4.

A postal service official also is scheduled to speak at the Richland City Council meeting Feb. 5 at City Hall, 505 Swift Blvd. The meeting starts at 7:30 a.m., and it's open to the public.

Richland Mayor John Fox said postal officials recently contacted city leaders about the potential relocation. "As far as the city is concerned, we appreciated the advanced notice," he said. "They said they would consult with us when they found a desirable location for them, with regard to (working on any) traffic and parking issues."

In recent years, the postal service has seen its mail volume -- and its revenue -- drop as more people turn to the internet to pay bills, send greeting cards and communicate long-distance.

Total mail volume has fallen 20 percent during the past three years, according to a postal service flier announcing the potential relocation.

Another Tri-City postal facility -- the Processing & Distribution Center in Pasco -- has been targeted for closure because of the postal service's financial woes.

It remains open, although Swanson said officials plan to move at least part of the operation elsewhere at some point.

On Friday, customers popped in and out of the Richland post office around lunchtime. None of the five people approached by a Herald reporter were aware of the possible relocation.

Craig Beck of Richland said he would be OK with a move, "as long as it's not too far away."

Fellow Richland resident Don Anderson agreed.

He visits the post office often to check his P.O. box, he said. If it goes to a new spot, he hopes it's nearby, he said.

And: "I hope it has more parking."

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