Why Is Yankton’s Downtown Post Office Closing Despite Moratorium?

A moratorium has been imposed on post office closures, so why is Yankton’s downtown post office closing in January anyway?

It’s a question I’ve received since the announcement of its closure was made last week.

Well, it comes down to a bit of a technicality regarding definitions.

I asked USPS spokesman Peter Nowacki about why the closure will proceed — and it’s because it is not considered a closure by the USPS.

“Yankton was not a closing, simply a move of retail from one location to another,” Nowacki said. “Closings refer to communities where we may close the PO without replacing it.”

The closing of Yankton’s downtown post office has attracted the attention of the website, “Save The Post Office,” which provides information about post office closings and consolidations that are taking place, the historic post office buildings that are being sold off, the efforts people are taking to protect their post offices and the things citizens can do to save their post office when it ends up on the closure list.

Here is what Steve Hutkins, who runs the site, had to say about the Yankton situation:

More closings, moratorium or not: The Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan reports that the historic post office in Yankton, South Dakota, will close on Monday, January 23.  Given that there’s a moratorium on closings until May 15, it’s not quite clear how that could be happening.  The Postal Service has told the PRC that it would “take the final step of closing a Post Office prior to May 16, 2012, only when that Post Office was not in operation on, and the Final Determination was posted as of, December 12, 2011.”  Since the Yankton post office is still in operation, shouldn’t it be included in the moratorium?

The Yankton post office was built in 1905 on the site of the town’s first school, which dates back to 1866.  Designed in the Classical Revival style, the post office is one of twenty landmark structures in downtown Yankton.  The nomination form to the National Register of Historic Places notes that while many government buildings adopted this palace style, “not all were designed as successfully as the Yankton post office,” and the application also calls attention to the “animated carved eagle over the center bay.”

The consolidation is expected to save the Postal Service about a $100,000 a year.  The building is already for sale, and according to the Postal Service’s new real estate website, the asking price is $395,000.

I had not heard the asking price is $395,000, so that’s an interesting piece of news. Nice work, Steve, and thanks for keeping an eye on Yankton.

As a side note, John Nichols of The Nation, named http://www.savethepostoffice.com the most valuable website on his “Progressive Honor Roll of 2011.”

Nowhere was the assault on public services more aggressive than in the push to downsize the Postal Service. Battered by a Congressional mandate that pensions be prepaid for the next seventy-five years, the USPS announced plans to eliminate services, lay off tens of thousands of workers and close as many as 3,700 local offices. The American Postal Workers Union and the National Association of Letter Carriers stepped up to fight the cuts, making powerful arguments against the slide toward privatization. And Steve Hutkins’s website, savethepostoffice
.com, became an essential resource for a network of grassroots groups in all fifty states defending local post offices—along with the idea that the founders were right when they argued that a strong postal service does not just deliver mail; it builds communities and links them as a nation. Best of all, Save the Post Office has made smart arguments for expanding the USPS by doing things like renewing the old postal banking system.

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