By Steve Wilder dotCANTON.com
Insisting that no decision has been made on the fate of the North Canton Post Office, Joseph Mazzola, acting manager of post office operations for the 060 (zip) area, presented at least two bits of troubling information Tuesday night, April 26, that are seemingly working against the facility’s survival.
Speaking to about 70 residents at the Cherry Brook Grange on Route 179, Mazzola said the North Canton Post Office brought in a little more than $38,000 in revenue last year while operating at a cost of about $79,000.
In addition, Mazzola said the facility generated only 1.8 hours of work per day for the single postal employee who is paid to be there from opening to closing.
Those two factors might not weigh heavily against a postal unit located in an area where other USPS facilities weren’t available, Mazzola said, but in this case the Canton Center Post Office is an alternative that’s only 3.1 miles away.
Mazzola also pointed out several times that contractual obligations prohibit the USPS from closing a post office that has a sitting postmaster. North Canton doesn’t have one, but the other three post offices in Canton do.
After opening the 90-plus minute session with a brief overview of the financial miseries facing the U.S. Postal Service in general and the steps being taken to deal with them, Mazzola patiently answered questions and listened to comments for more than an hour, including remarks from several individuals who went beyond the inconveniences a closure might bring and spoke passionately about the value of the facility to a sense of community in North Canton. It was a decidedly mature crowd, with most in attendance seemingly in their 50s and older.
“Initiating a study is not a decision to discontinue a post office,” Mazzola said in his opening comments. “This informational meeting is truly going to help us make a decision.”
When he finished his greeting and was ready to answer questions, Mazzola looked at the audience and said: “OK, let me have it.” The quip drew only a small chuckle.
One resident spoke about how difficult it would be to place a mailbox by the street that could survive the snowplows during the winter.
Another said: “It’s very important to all of us that we don’t have to change our addresses.”
A third talked about how the post office was a sort of mini “community center” for the people of North Canton.
At one point during his responses, Mazzola said the USPS had “suffered monumental record losses last year.” He also reminded the audiences about how the world has changed and how the post office “doesn’t even stay open late any more on tax filing day.”
Afterward, Kathy Condron, the officer in charge of the North Canton facility, said “the majority” of individuals in attendance were box holders at her post office. If the North Canton office is closed, those individuals would currently have two options if they wished to continue receiving mail: They could obtain a P.O. box in Canton Center that would come with the same number and a North Canton zip, or they could have their mail delivered to their home addresses, possibly, Mazzola said, with a North Canton zip.
One resident suggested setting up a bank of outdoor “cluster boxes” somewhere in North Canton that would at least erase the need to drive to Canton Center to pick up mail, and Mazzola said that has been done elsewhere. Still, that solution would involve finding a site, possibly paying rent for the area, and maintaining access to it during winter weather.
Procedural requirements mean a final decision on the fate of the North Canton facility won’t be made until September at the earliest.