Opposition to closing of Rice Street post office continues

LIHUE — One hundred coconuts rested in crates in the bed of a pickup truck outside the Rice Street post office on Monday afternoon.

The coconuts carried personalized messages — but in a way, they were all the same: Leave this post office alone.

“It’s a tradition in Hawaii to mail coconut postcards to people on the mainland and we thought that it would be a nice message to say that it’s really nuts to think about moving the post office; it’s coconuts,” said Pat Griffin, president of the Lihue Business Association.

Griffin was joined by others who oppose a proposal to close and move the operations of the Rice Street post office, which was announced in January.

Many wrote notes on the coconuts. One put it simply: “Stay.” One put it like this: “Dear P.O., you are and should remain the center of Lihue Town.” Another said, “Aloha — Please keep the Lihue Post Office on Rice St. as part of a pedestrian-friendly downtown.”

The coconuts are being mailed to Dean Cameron of USPS in San Francisco. The cost of shipping 100 coconuts is about $15 to $20 each, around $1,500 to $2,000 total.

The money was donated by the Historic Kauai foundation, a grant through the National Trust and the Lihue Business Association.

“We thought it would be a fun way to show that we’re serious about this. We were told that there is no appeal once the decision is made (to move the post office) so we are getting all the information out that we can before March 23,” Griffin said.

Constructed in 1939, the Rice Street post office has been a staple in the Lihue community for decades and is convenient location for many residents who enjoy walking down Rice Street, she said.

“It’s a focal point of the community. It’s the place to meet people, be seen, it’s a historic building but the use of this place is historic as well. I can walk to the bank, walk to the post office and walk across the street to the county. It’s one less car on the road and it’s convenient,” said Palmer Hafdahl, vice president of Lihue Business Association.

The Postal Service said the move is being considered because there is a lack of parking around the post office, and accessibility is difficult. There has been a community outcry against the plan.

Moving the post office to a new location two years after the county received $13.8 million to improve the Lihue town core from the U.S. Department of Transportation — plus another $2 million matched from the county — would ruin the authenticity and history of Rice Street, Hafdahl said.

“We’re trying to maintain its historic use as much as possible,” he said. “Lord knows how much things change in the world, but we’re not ready for this change yet.”

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