- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
In the coming weeks, Bel Alton residents might no longer have a post office to call their own.
Patrick Dillon, a Bel Alton resident, said he noticed a sign on the door of the office toward the end of February warning residents that the office was to close its doors March 28. All post office boxes would be reassigned to the La Plata office, along with delivery service for residents served from the Bel Alton office.
In October 2012, the Bel Alton office was one of the first to have its hours of operations reduced. Instead of being open eight hours a day, it would only be open for four. The cut in hours came as part of a May 2012 plan intended to stave off a $14 billion loss the U.S. Postal Service was facing.
Dillon and Chapel Point Woods Homeowners Association Treasurer Dave Black said they had heard the Bel Alton office’s pending closure is the result of failed negotiations between the property owner and the USPS. The owner is listed online as Bel Alton Properties LLC. Black said it was his understanding that the owner had chosen not to renew the lease on the building, effectively shuttering the post office.
Dillon and Black said the landowner has not been responsive when they reached out to her to find out what is going on.
“We’ve been working trying to keep it open, but nobody seems to care,” Black said, noting that he had reached out to several local politicians for help. “I think the [USPS] doesn’t really care. They’re just trying to close the little offices.”
Black said aside from the sign on the door, post office box owners have not received any notification of what is to come.
“They’re leaving us hanging out there with almost no information,” Black said.
“We have a convenient and ready location for mailing. We have good delivery here,” Dillon said. “I don’t know how that would change if it was moved up into town. I know that it would be inconvenient for mailing. I try to avoid the La Plata post office. It will not be like it is now.”
Although she is not personally affected, Pat Hackley, an assistant manager at Thunderbird Apartments, said several of the complex’s residents don’t own vehicles, and so they walk to the Bel Alton post office daily to retrieve their mail. For that reason, the pending closure concerns her.
“When I heard the post office was closing down, that wasn’t good,” Hackley said. “If their mail is moved to La Plata, that’s going to create a problem for them.”
Hackley said she also knew people living at other nearby motels would be faced with the same issue.
“Where are they going to get their mail? Waiting for VanGO and then getting to the office could take an hour,” Hackley said.
USPS spokeswoman Laura Dvorak confirmed the closure but gave no further information. The woman listed as the landowner for the Bel Alton site did not return requests for comment.