Monday, Dec. 4, 2023 |
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LIHUE — The potential relocation of the Rice Street post office to the carrier annex by the airport is still up in the air.
And, representatives from the U.S. Postal Service met for two hours with about 25 people at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall Wednesday to clarify misinformation shared at the last public meeting in April.
“The man leading it said this wasn’t a financial or operational decision on the part of USPS,” said Greg Shelton, of USPS.
He continued: “The goal is to make everybody understand it’s not just about parking, or a tree. It is a financial and operational decision.”
USPS is operating at a $2 billion deficit as of last quarter, Shelton said, and the entity is looking at ways to consolidate and make operations more efficient.
Shelton and his team are on Kauai to convey that fact to the public and to encourage everyone with a stake in the issue to send in comments during the new, 30-day time period.
Wednesday’s meeting was casual, and the crowd was calm and inquisitive. It was a smaller group than some expected over an issue that initially fired up the community.
Residents learned about the potential relocation of the Rice Street post office on Jan. 26, when a memo was posted at the location.
The idea was met with community resistance, which pointed to the location’s convenience and to the 1939 building’s status on the Hawaii State Register and the National Register of Historic places as reasons for preserving the location.
Since then, Shelton said he’s received 545 letters and more than 100 coconuts from Kauai residents, stating their opinions.
“We don’t need more coconuts, but that did catch our attention,” Shelton said. “But the more comments you send in, the better case I can build for you to keep the post office where it’s at.”
Vivien Davenport of Lihue said convenience is the main reason she uses the Rice Street post office.
“I don’t use UPS or FedEx, but if it (the post office) is over at the airport, now I have three options and a different one might be cheaper,” Davenport said.
County Councilmember Derek Kawakami questioned the economics of the post office’s plan, likening their current Rice Street location to Boardwalk or Park Place in the game Monopoly.
“This is a key piece of real estate, and how much of the sale of this location is really going to fix the problem?” he asked.
Ed Coll of Puhi pointed out this possible reconsolidation at the airport is in direct conflict with the spirit of the $13 million revitalization project in the works for Rice Street, using the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) federal grant.
“They want to make this a more walkable, bikeable and breathable area, and you’re putting the post office out where we’re all going to have to use cars to get there,” Coll said.
He rides his bike from Puhi to the Rice Street location to check his P.O. box.
“If they move the post office way out to the airport, that’s a 12-mile round trip on my bicycle just to check my P.O. box,” Coll said.
Davenport said the best idea she heard during the meeting came from Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura, who suggested forming a nonprofit Friends of the Post Office group.
“The group could raise the money to buy the building and then rent it back out to the post office,” Davenport said.
No decision has been made on the relocation and consolidation of the Rice Street post office and the carrier annex, and comments are being accepted until Nov. 10, Shelton said.
Send comments to: U.S. Postal Service, Attn: Greg Shelton-Lihue HI, 200 E. Kentucky Ave, Denver, CO 80209-9950.
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