US Postal Service official visits Steamboat Springs, addresses local service issues |

US Postal Service official visits Steamboat Springs, addresses local service issues

Snow falls around the U.S. Postal Service location in Steamboat Springs on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. Postal Service communications specialist James Boxrud was in Steamboat on Wednesday, March 8, to tour the post office and visit Alpenglow Village, where residents have not been able to get the post office to deliver mail to their cluster boxes since moving in more than two years ago.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

U.S. Postal Service communications specialist James Boxrud was in Steamboat Springs on Wednesday, March 8, touring the local post office, meeting with staff and talking with local officials about issues that have come to a head over the past few months.

“I wanted to just meet with him and talk about the issues that we’re seeing in Steamboat with the mail delivery,” said Gail Garey, a Steamboat Springs City Council member. “I wanted to talk with him about the concept of P.O. boxes, paid P.O. boxes and this idea of the Group E delivery.”

Agencies and residents, as well as city officials, have been dealing with delivery issues that surfaced in December, but the issues with deliveries to local cluster boxes date back at least to the completion of Alpenglow Village in summer 2020.

Garey said there is also a lot of confusion in Steamboat about the who and why for P.O. Box payments.

“I think it’s about communicating to the post office in terms of the specifics to Steamboat,” Garey said. “Particularly, residents in the downtown area where there’s really no option other than paying for a P.O. box.”

One of those residents, Melissa VanArsdale, has been questioning why residents who live downtown without access to cluster boxes are forced to pay for P.O. boxes.

“I don’t mind having a P.O. box, but I’m not pleased with having to pay for it because we don’t have another option,” VanArsdale said. “If we had another option, I might weigh the pros and cons of that, but we have no other option.”

VanArsdale just got a bill asking her to pay $105 for six months or $210 for the whole year for her P.O. box at the post office. That same box cost her $51 for six months and $102 for the year in 2018.

In February, Boxrud said the Postal Service had put together a team of people to evaluate who was eligible for Group E delivery, which is where service is provided free, with restrictions, to customers without access to home delivery or a cluster box. He said the Postal Service is currently evaluating who should be included in this group.

However, Boxrud was in Steamboat to address another issue at Alpenglow Village, where residents have not been able to get the post office to deliver mail to their cluster boxes since moving in more than two years ago.

He said the process has included replacing missing keys, and then matching the keys to the residents’ boxes. He didn’t have a date, but he said that at some point, residents will be given keys and delivery will begin.

“I went out to that Alpenglow Village to look at their boxes, to see what they needed and what is it going to take to get us to start delivery there,” Boxrud said. “We’ll have some maintenance personnel who will go ahead and rekey those boxes.”

Because of staffing shortages, the Postal Service has also struggled to get mail to Steamboat Springs residents from December until late February. Boxrud said he wanted to visit the local post office to see that things are improving and to visit with the staff who have faced less-than-ideal conditions.  

“I just wanted to see the office and meet some of the staff and learn what their challenges are,” Boxrud said. “We have some people there who really want to serve the community. They are great employees, and we are trying to give them some support.”

He recently said the Postal Service had replaced contract drivers that left their positions in Steamboat at the end of last year. He added that a job fair in Steamboat last month resulted in three new job candidates entering the Postal Services hiring process with eyes on positions in Steamboat.

“We had five interested applicants, and we sent them all letters of acceptance,” Boxrud said. “(At least) three of them responded … They must take this short online test before going through the process with the FBI background checks and stuff like that.”

He is optimistic that the post office will be able to fill a custodian position and two mail clerk positions, too. He said it takes applicants about four weeks to move through the process.

Steamboat is currently understaffed, but Boxrud said the Postal Service will continue bringing in outside help to maintain service levels until the gaps are filled.

“We’re throwing resources at it from all across the state,” Boxrud said. “What we would really like is for the town to be self-sufficient and to be able to hire the positions they need to fill their staff.”

On Tuesday, March 7, Colorado Sens. John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet met with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Capitol Hill to discuss issues in Steamboat and several other mountain communities.

DeJoy said the challenges in these communities are directly connected to the nature of rural and contract routes, and the hiring challenges connected to the local cost of living and housing. He said these pressures have occurred simultaneously with an increase in the number of local delivery points and package deliveries.

“The solutions in mail delivery service inevitably involve human resources, and our workforce, no matter how hard working, are spread thin in these mountain communities where it is expensive to live and difficult to hire — a challenge that will also need creative solutions from local leaders,” DeJoy said. “The Postal Service can and will solve problems within our own power, but local economic conditions are not among them. The senators appeared to understand the issues — both of local circumstances and postal in nature — and hopefully also appreciated the multifaceted steps we are taking to deploy resources to improve service.”

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