Yukimura: Keep Rice Street post office

LIHUE — Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura wants to send a united message to the U.S. Postal Service: Keep the Lihue post office on Rice Street.

So, she’s drafted a County Council resolution asking USPS to reconsider its plan to close the Rice Street post office and consolidate operations with the USPS Carrier Annex facility at 3230 Kapule Highway.

“I think it’s important as the council and as leaders of the community to speak as a body and we can only speak as a body through a resolution,” Yukimura said. “I’m trying to do everything possible to get the message to post office officials that the community wants the services to remain on Rice Street.”

USPS staff members said community feedback is just what they’re looking for.

“We appreciate the input from the Kauai County Council,” said Duke Gonzales, area spokesman for USPS. “We also appreciate the comments previously received from our customers and from Kauai community leaders.”

The Kauai community found out about the planned closure on Jan. 26, when a memo was posted at the 4441 Rice St. location.

Shortly after that, a grassroots effort called Save our Post Office began on Kauai with the intent to rally the Lihue community and “those who support historic preservation and vibrant, human-centric small town and urban centers throughout the islands,” according to organizers.

USPS held a meeting on Feb. 23 to gain feedback from the public on the proposal. More than 100 attended.

“At the meeting, we heard many thoughtful and passionate opinions, some in favor of the proposal, some in opposition,” Gonzales said.

At the Feb. 23 meeting, Dean Cameron, Pacific area retail specialist for USPS, brought everyone up to speed on the reasoning behind the consolidation proposal.

Lack of parking and congestion were cited as key reasons.

The process could happen within a year, Cameron said, but he added that no decision has been made.

Yukimura acknowledged there is “a problem that needs to be solved” when it comes to parking at the Rice Street location, but thinks parking can be addressed through the Lihue Town Core Plan and TIGER Grant.

A walkable, bikable community is the goal of both the Lihue Town Core Plan and the $13 million TIGER Grant that Kauai received.

“The Town Core Plan is one thing, the TIGER Grant is a new development — it’s a huge federal investment as well as a local investment,” Yukimura said. “We need to be aligned toward the same goal or we can’t succeed, and the post office pulling out (of Rice Street) is one federal agency working against the other.”

The post office attracts lots of people to the downtown area, she pointed out.

“If it’s not convenient to use, people will turn to other providers of the same service and someone mentioned the UPS office in Kukui Grove,” she said. “We need to find a way to make it work.”

USPS is accepting public comments on the plan until March 23.

“Our decision whether to move forward with this proposal or not will be based on how we can best serve postal customers in Lihue today, and in the future,” Gonzales said.

“No decision will be made regarding this proposal until after that comment period is over and after we have had an opportunity to review the customer comments and input from community leaders.”

The Kauai County Council will consider the resolution at its next meeting, set for Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. at the Historic County Building.

Written comments on the relocation can be mailed to: Jody Lowe, Real Estate Specialist, USPS Facilities Office, PO Box 27497, Greensboro, NC 27498-1103.

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