by Mary Rupert
Cluster mailboxes, an idea that has been proposed to make the postal service more efficient, have found their way to the Highland Crest and Cathedral neighborhoods, according to a Kansas City, Kan., resident.
Joan Spero, a Kansas City, Kan., resident who has served as a district liaison with the National Association of Letter Carriers and Auxiliary, appeared before a Unified Government Committee on Monday night to talk about cluster mailboxes.
Spero said one group of cluster mailboxes is about four blocks from her residence. She expressed her belief that house-to-house mail delivery is a right of postal customers.
She said it is up to the postal customer, part of the Postal Operations Manual, whether or not his mail is delivered to his house or to a cluster mailbox. She said people who live in a neighborhood have to be asked if they want to have cluster boxes before they are installed.
Spero said she was concerned about safety and health of residents, especially elderly residents, who might have to walk a distance to get their mail. Some are not physically able to walk that distance, she said. Also, she said she was concerned about theft from cluster mailbox break-ins. There has already been a theft ring involving cluster mailboxes in Johnson County, she said, citing a news article.
In August, she said, a switch was made to cluster boxes for 28 homes in the Highland Crest area, with the reason given that a mail carrier was bitten by a dog. Spero said she had talked with the letter carrier and discovered that it was a slight injury, it did not break the skin, the letter carrier received a Band-Aid and returned to work the next day. There haven’t been serious dog bites to carriers in the Kansas City, Kan., area for more than 20 years, she said.
“We would like you to let your constituents know what their rights are,” Spero told the commissioners.
She also said residents wrote to U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder to see what they could do about it.
The postal service spokeswoman for this area, Stacy St. John, was contacted for a response and said that she had not heard what was said at the meeting, and so she could not comment on it.
Using cluster boxes is part of postal reform nationwide because it is the most efficient way to serve customers, she said.
It was part of a postal reform bill that has not been approved by Congress. At this time, district managers approve delivery mode changes, St. John said. There is no movement for customers to involuntarily change their mode of delivery. If customers wanted to change to cluster boxes, the postal service would take that into consideration, she said.
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