Post office on North Davis may close

WARNER ROBINS — The U.S. Postal Service is considering closing the post office on Davis Drive due to an inability to negotiate a new lease.

“The Postal Service was unable to negotiate a suitable lease for the Northside Station building at a fair and marketable value,” post office box holders were told in a letter from the postal service dated July 31. The letter also included a questionnaire on the types of services customers used, and included a place for comment.

Customers visiting the location at 200 N. Davis Drive on Tuesday had plenty to say about the possible closing.

“I’m outraged,” Elizabeth Davis said after checking the P.O. Box she has used for nearly 19 years. She said residents on the north side of town need their own post office and that she would not rent a box at the Russell Parkway location. “They’re going to lose a lot of money.”

Davis said she has already returned her questionnaire.

“I filled it out, put it back in the mail the very next day and I wrote all over it.”

The decision on whether to close the Davis Drive post office will not be made before the end of the fiscal year, which is Sept. 30, according to Michael Miles, a communications manager for the postal service.

The possible closing mirrors a national trend of closings and cuts by the postal service.

The U.S. Postal Service announced March 30 that it was closing eight district offices, eliminating positions and offering early retirement nationwide because of the economy.

In addition to a host of other cost-saving measures, the postal service noted plans to streamline operations across the board.

A proposed increase in rent for the North Davis Drive location placed it on a “collision course” with the federal mandate to reduce costs and increase efficiency, Miles said.

“Unfortunately, these are rough times and we’re having to make tough decisions on where we can staff services,” Miles said.

Postal customers also were told that the closure was a tentative recommendation.

“The recommended change is tentative and it will not lead to a formal proposal unless we conclude that we can provide the Northside Station customers with a maximum degree of regular and effective service,” the letter said.

Box holders would have the option of relocating to the main Warner Robins post office at 904 Russell Parkway.

“If a permanent change to P.O. Box service is implemented, every effort will be made to retain the same P.O. Box numbers and the 31099 ZIP code,” the letter said.

The lease expires in February, according to the letter. The owner of the Davis Drive building was listed as Pine Hill Associates, 222 Grand Ave., Englewood, N.J., according to Warner Robins city tax records. Directory assistance did not show a listing for the corporation.

A sign outside the post office at the corner of North Davis Drive and South Young Avenue advertised retail space for lease from Sperry Van Ness/Creviston Reality Inc., based in Roswell. Sam Ivey, a real estate adviser for the firm, said the company was no longer the leasing agent and that the sign was from an earlier attempt to lease space in the building not utilized by the post service. Ivey said he did not have a contact number for the owners, and that he dealt with a New York broker as a go-between. He said the broker asked him not to give out contact information.

Susan Dean, 66, also was checking her mail at the post office Tuesday. She said her family has had the same P.O. Box since 1957, having opened the account when the post office was located on Commercial Circle before it moved to Davis Drive. The postal service has occupied the building on North Davis Drive since Feb. 1, 1960, Miles said.

Dean noted that many residents who use the North Davis Drive location walk or bicycle to the post office.

Herbert B. Hawthorne Sr., 80, a retired sheet metal worker, expressed concern about heavy traffic on Russell Parkway if the North Davis Drive location closed. He said he has used his P.O. Box at the North Davis Drive location for 20 years.

Most customers outside the post office Tuesday opposed the closing. But there was an exception.

“It really wouldn’t bother me,” said Barbara Smith, a distribution process worker for the U.S. Department of Defense. She moved from Warner Robins to Byron but kept her P.O. Box in Warner Robins. She said the Byron post office is closer to home and she could rent a box there.

The letter directed customers’ questions to Sandra F. Bussey, district post office review coordinator, and gave the phone number (478) 752-8725. Questionnaires were due back Aug. 15.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.