USPS appears to be dodging decision

The U.S. Postal Service recently announced its decision to “redo the regulatory process related to the proposal to relocate the retail operations of the Lihue Post Office from its current location on Rice Street to its Lihue Carrier Annex facility at 3230 Kapule Highway. This will allow USPS to provide a more comprehensive explanation of the proposal to community leaders and its customers.”

This is code for: The Postal Service has made its decision but to avoid taking too much heat and criticism, it will come back, listen to the community say the same things all over again, hear the same pleads against closing the Rice Street post office, and it will offer the same explanation all over again why this is a good move.

We’ve all heard about the parking and access woes, it’s an old building and certainly, closing it and moving operations to the annex will save money. It will be interesting to hear their additional reasons for explaining why they want to close this beloved post office, considered critical to Rice Street revitalization efforts. And also, why they didn’t provide a “more comprehensive explanation” in the first place.

Their release continues:

“USPS has appreciated the thoughtful comments — both for and against the proposal — that have previously been submitted and encourages all those with an interest to share their concerns during the upcoming comment period and/or community meeting.”

Let’s give the Postal Service credit for being politically correct, avoiding making a decision it knows will upset many people. When someone has decided something it knows will be unpopular, the standard steps are to stall, pretend you haven’t made up your mind and are still considering what others are saying, and then, deliver the news.

Despite passionate pleads and hundreds of coconuts being sent to the Postal Service to deliver a message this historic post office should remain open, it’s doubtful it will.

But, perhaps all is not lost. The fight to keep the Rice Street post office is gaining strength.

U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono remains opposed to the relocation of retail services from the Lihue post office.

She wrote to USPS in opposition to the relocation. The senator cited the lack of transparency from USPS to the Kauai community, as well as a weak case for relocating the post office, as a basis for her opposition.

She had this to say:

“I appreciate today’s announcement by the USPS and concur with their decision to provide a more thorough explanation to the community on the need to relocate retail operations. When my office has asked questions of the USPS on this matter, we have received inconsistent information from the USPS which is of great concern to me. We need a process that is fair and transparent, and works in the best interest of the local community. I will continue to work closely with the mayor and the USPS to look for ways to keep the retail operations at the Lihue Post Office. I encourage all Kauai residents to take advantage of the extended comment period to make their voices heard.”

Our mayor, too, said he welcomes an expansion of the public-comment process that would allow additional input on the proposal by the U.S. Postal Service to relocate the retail operations of the historic Lihue post office to its carrier annex facility near the Lihue Airport.

“I was informed by the Postal Service this morning that they will be holding another comment period,” Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said in a press release. “I am pleased that they are taking the extra time to engage the community on this important matter.”

The County of Kauai, along with representatives from the offices of Hirono and U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, have met with representatives of the USPS on multiple occasions to discuss ways to avoid the closure of this vital resource.

The county offered an array of possible solutions in response to the concerns expressed by the USPS, particularly with regard to the site’s lack of parking and access issues. The solutions included but were not limited to the use of county parking facilities and improved pedestrian access.

“I am committed to finding shared solutions and ensuring the maintenance of the existing Lihue Post Office site on Rice Street,” said the mayor.

So, while we are anxious to hear what new details the Postal Service will offer on closing the Rice Street post office, we’re skeptical it’s really going to change anything. If this “more comprehensive explanation” really is more comprehensive and really does have information that could give residents a reason to support this closure, then it should have been presented from day one, not months later.

We encourage the community to attend the next public hearing — which for some reason has not been scheduled — on the Lihue Post Office situation.

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