LIHUE — Kauai optometrist Stan Schiller was blown away when he found out the United States Postal Service is considering closing the Rice Street post office.
“What about the people in Lihue?” he said. “I just paid for my P.O. box.”
So he turned around and went right back into the post office, where he found out if the plan moves forward, it could take up to a year to fully close the location.
“It’s crazy,” Schiller said. “Mind blowing.”
The proposed closure was confirmed Wednesday by USPS staff members, and was announced on Monday with a public notice posted in the lobby of the Lihue post office at 4441 Rice Street.
The notice failed to explain that USPS is considering a consolidation of the Rice Street location — the first stand-alone U.S. Post Office building on Kauai that opened in 1938 — and the USPS Carrier Annex facility at 3230 Kapule Highway.
“This location would provide much improved access for Lihue postal customers, who have had to deal with increasingly challenging parking and access issues at our 4441 Rice Street facility over the years,” said Duke Gonzales of USPS.
Under the proposal, all Lihue P.O. box customers would have their boxes transferred to the new location, Gonzales said, and addresses would remain the same.
Depending on the time of day, between four and eight people work at the Rice Street location. No jobs would be lost under the proposal, because employees would be transferred.
But the idea of closing the historic site still doesn’t set right with locals.
“If you go over (Rice Street post office) at 8 a.m., there’s always a line,” said Julie Kajiwara, who works across the street from the location at the Office of Elderly Affairs. “A lot of us will go over there on our lunch break.”
Louis Lopez, who works in downtown Lihue, goes by the Rice Street location every day.
“It’s the closest since the one in Puhi closed,” he said.
He continued: “As the only full-service post office in Lihue, thousands of people depend on the services and convenience of this location. Closing this location seems like it would be a big mistake.”
A public meeting to discuss the proposal will reportedly be scheduled
The proposal is open for public comment. Comments must be received by Feb. 8 and can be mailed to: Jody Lowe, Real Estate Specialist, USPS Facilities Office, PO Box 27497, Greensboro, NC 27498-1103.