Hanama‘ulu post office on the chopping block

LIHU‘E — Those who wish to keep the Hanama‘ulu Post Office: It’s time to speak up.

Hanama‘ulu Post Office is marked for closing, but not until at least December, following a public comment period to take feedback into consideration.

The U.S. Post Office recently completed an Expanded Access study as a way to update the way it provides services that no longer require a physical post office for many postal needs. With postal business conducted online or on other messaging technologies such as smart phones, the Post Office said the need to maintain retail offices has diminished.

The results noted that the Hanama‘ulu Post Office at 4251 Kuhio Hwy. is marked for closure, leaving the Lihu‘e Post Office at 4441 Rice St. as the only full-service station for the 96766 ZIP code.

The Expanded Access study looked at approximately 3,700 retail offices nationwide to determine customer needs and came up with a retail-replacement option called Village Post Offices at appropriate businesses. Village Post Offices offer postal products and services, such as stamps and flat-rate packaging, but do not have the full-service model or post office boxes.

There are currently three expansion locations in the Lihu‘e area. Stamps are available at the Longs Drugs on Kaumuali‘i Highway and the Costco on Nuhou Street. Stamps, packages and mail can be sent at the Puhi CPU on Puhi Road. Stamps and shipping services are available at Hilo Hattie on Kuhio Highway.

The Kapa‘a Safeway will also have stamp services; and the Kealia CPO will offer stamps, mailing and shipping.

Duke Gonzales, spokesperson for the Postal Service in Honolulu, said the current list of post office locations being considered for closing were the result of the study, which looked at the number of customer visits, revenue and proximity to other postal facilities and contracted retail outlets to carry services.

A potential closing would go through a 60-day open commentary process and review. There is no closing date yet announced for the Hanama‘ulu location and the earliest proposed closings would not occur before December.

Gonzales said the Postal Service welcomes comments from customers to help them determine how to establish better access points. The amount and type of feedback will determine whether a public meeting will be held to discuss the closing directly with the community.

Comments are being accepted for 60 days starting July 25. The study regarding the closing is considered proprietary information and is not available for public review.

To send comments, write to the U.S. Postal Service, Office of the District Manager, Daryl Ishizaki, 3600 Aolele St., Honolulu, HI  96820.

The Hanama‘ulu Post Office is currently open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Saturdays. Rice Street location hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

Some concerns already generated involved parking. The Rice Street location has just a few public spaces, so potentially more parking may be needed with additional traffic from the Hanama‘ulu community.

According to district manager Daryl Ishizaki, the closings are part of a bigger picture of how the Postal Service is changing for the better.

“We’re teaming up with hundreds of stores across the state so customers can do postal business at places where they already shop,” Ishizaki said. “These days, shoppers and shippers have more to do and less time to do it. We know simpler is better —online, on your mobile device, on your way, with an expertise that you can count on.”

Customers can find many locations to purchase postal services on Kaua‘i by visiting an interactive map at www.uspseverywhere.com and typing in a ZIP code. Using the icon guide designating stamps, shipping and packaging, P.O. boxes and other services, customers can easily navigate to retail outlets, grocery stores, Automated Postal Center kiosks and Post Offices, among other options.

The full-service post offices on Kaua‘i that remain open include: Anahola (96703); Kilauea (96754); Princeville (96722); Hanalei (96714); Kapa‘a (96746); Kekaha (96752); Waimea (96796); Makaweli (96769); Kaumakani (96747); Hanapepe (96716); ‘Ele‘ele (96705); Kalaheo (96741); Lawai (96765); and Koloa (96756).

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