The U.S. Postal Service cut the operating hours at the Greenwood post office in March as part of a plan to reduce expenses. The move defied the energized Greenwood community that turned out for a January 9 meeting with regional post office officials at Emmanuel Episcopal Church to plead for the status quo at Greenwood, which post office officials admit is profitable. The post office will now be open six hours a day, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with an hour closed for lunch.
“The highlight of the process is that they are lumping a lot of small P.O.s together and not looking at the merits of each,” said Scott Peyton, a leader with the Greenwood Citizens’ Council, a grassroots group that organized the effort to save the P.O. from having shorter hours and service reductions.
Peyton said the closing of the post office, which Greenwood residents believe is the long-term goal of the operational hours cut, would be as potentially damaging to the Greenwood community as the closing of Greenwood elementary school was. Greenwood’s identity is being lost, he fears, as it feels pressure from growing Crozet. Should the Greenwood post office close, some of its rural delivery routes would likely be transferred to Crozet.
“There was overwhelming opposition to the process, which was misleading and deceptive,” said Peyton. “We were aggressive about educating ourselves about post office policies and we approached in good faith. But they ignored us. Nationwide, we’ve learned, nearly every post office that was identified [for cuts] did not escape this fate.
“This is the least reduction possible under the plan. We take some consolation in that. They say they will review Greenwood post office in one year and if our revenue has increased they might consider restoring the lost hours. If revenue declines, they may reduce hours more.”
But with shorter hours, and none convenient for those on their way to or from their jobs, one would expect fewer customers.
“We always thought we were actually targeted for closure. The old district manager suspended the DUO [the plan to reduce services carried out at the post office, such as sorting], but the new manager will only say he’ll suspend temporarily.
“DUO was never supposed to be a public process,” Peyton said. “So we could be reevaluated under the table and find out about a decision later. There’s no way for us to oppose it.
“Congressman [Robert] Hurt certainly helped us, but the U.S.P.S. is very evasive. We got run over by a bureaucratic bulldozer. They took the hours off the morning so that has set back delivery in the boxes until the middle of the day. You never had to look for it after 10 a.m before.”
The U.S.P.S. is looking to replace Mandy Conley, who has been staffing the Greenwood post office part time and with no benefits, with a full-time career employee. Conley is not eligible to apply for the job. Peyton said that the most obviously successful way to run the office would be to keep Conley on. “She knows the system and the community. She’s the most efficient choice.
“What it all indicates is tremendous upheaval and confusion internally in the postal service,” Peyton said. “We get incomplete information from them. They won’t tell us about any revenue. It’s wait and see now. The best thing we can do is use the post office and hope the postal service recognizes that.
“Ultimately the solution for rural post offices is going to have to include direction from Congress. The Post Plan [for reducing hours] grew out of inaction by Congress.
“The ‘savings’ at Greenwood P.O. are false savings,” said Peyton. “We’re not throwing in the towel. We garnered attention for our P.O. and we gave our community a voice, even though they ignored us with impunity. We expect them to try to circumvent us in the future. We demonstrated that we can be active and vocal.”