Two Macon post offices considered for closure

Two Macon post offices — the one at Macon Mall and the one on Riverside Drive — are among 413 being considered for closure nationwide, according to the U.S. Postal Service. A final decision won’t be made until at least Oct. 2, but the mall location and the one at 2770 Riverside Drive are “under review for consolidation,” along with 13 branches in Atlanta, one in Athens and one in Port Wentworth, which is near Savannah.

No other Middle Georgia branches are on the list. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that other regional post offices are in the clear.

The Postal Service already has made deep cuts this year, slicing $6 billion in expenses by cutting back on work hours, eliminating 12,000 carrier routes, instituting a hiring freeze and making other changes, according to a news release from the service.

But consumers continue to switch to e-mail and electronic bill payment instead of using the mail, which means more cuts.

“Mail volume in 2009 is projected to be as much as 20 billion fewer pieces than in 2008,” the release states. “Still, mail volume in 2009 will be in the neighborhood of 170 billion pieces of mail.”

The Macon locations were not on the closure study list earlier this summer, when it totaled about 677 branches. The local locations, as well as some others, were mistakenly left off that list, Postal Service spokesman Greg Frey said.

Losing the post offices would be a huge blow to either area. The Riverside drive location is in the River Street Corners mall, where 15 of 26 storefronts are vacant and most tenants are government agencies. Natalia’s Restaurant, a longtime fixture in a parking lot parcel, has announced a move to the north side of town next year.

Paul Rish, who leads the Bibb County Republican Party office in the plaza, said he’s often alone when he checks his business’ post office box.

“I’ve actually wondered why they haven’t closed it or moved it before,” he said. “I hate to say it, but this shopping center is kind of dying.”

But the Riverside Drive post office always has been convenient for John Anderson, who stops by a couple of times each week, often to mail items for his remote-controlled helicopter hobby.

“It’s always just close to where I am, and I like the guys here,” he explained as he wrapped two more boxes. “I like the guys here. They’re always helpful.”

Michael Miles, a Postal Service spokesman in Georgia, said the list of possible closures is “fluid” and not a guarantee of anything.

“I think that, in some cases, people are getting too locked in on that list,” Miles said.

Miles said the Postal Service will look at several factors in deciding which branches to close, including proximity to other locations and the cost of leased space.

Such is the case for a Warner Robins post office on the north side of town.

Although not on the list, the Postal Service is considering closing the post office at 200 N. Davis Drive because of the inability to negotiate a lease.

Miles said Wednesday that a decision on whether to close that post office was not expected before Sept. 30.

Telegraph staff writer Becky Purser contributed to this report. To contact writer Travis Fain, call 744-4213. To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.