Nine residents of Dola gathered at Hardin Northern Schools last week to discuss the impending feasibility study on their post office. The US Postal Service is going to determine whether or not to keep the post office open for the members of the small community.
Dola Postmaster Mike Dilts was not present at the meeting, but Dunkirk Postmaster Herb Hurley was there to help answer questions, along with Katrina Paxson and Harry Meyers from the USPS.
Dola residents were sent a letter and questionnaire on October 24 explaining that a Discontinuance Feasibility Study was to take place. The revenues at the Dola office have been steadily declining over the years, and the USPS is studying whether or not to merge the Dola and Dunkirk post offices into one, at Dunkirk (3.4 miles from Dola).
Revenue in 2007 was over $16,000 and in 2010, it was down to $10,800. Eliminating the office would save the USPS in the building’s overhead costs.
Meyers explained that the post office will give residents one free method of delivery, whether it is a mailbox on a rural route, or a post office box. If the post office boxes are moved to Dunkirk, those residents would have to drive there to pick up their mail. None of those present liked that idea.
Myers also said that Hurley would determine if any of the Dola residents would be able to be on a rural route (if the current carrier goes by their house) and they could put up a mailbox in front of their house. Or if they were within a reasonable distance from the carrier’s route, they could set up a mailbox down the street in order to get on the route. Hurley said that the Dola rural route already has 171 residents on it, and there are 68 residents with a post office box.
Hurley would have to review the route to see who was eligible to be placed on the rural route, but it would have to be “the safest and most convenient way” for the carrier.
That idea was more acceptable to the residents present, but as the night progressed, a new idea developed that the Dola residents really liked.
Meyers had explained the new USPS idea of a Village Post Office, where a local business or public entity allows community mailboxes to be set up on their property. The repository would include a mail drop, outdoor post office boxes, and a parcel locker (for items that won’t fit in the post office boxes). If it is a retail business, they can also offer USPS services, by selling Forever stamps, and prepaid shipping boxes. The Dola rural route carrier would still service those post office boxes.
With only Bullwinkle’s and the elevator in the village of Dola, it was asked if these boxes could be put somewhere without the retail services. Meyers said that would be possible, and the residents seemed pleased with that solution. They all suggested using the Washington Township building.
Meyers made it clear that it would have to be the residents of Dola who make that solution happen. They would have to approach the trustees and answer their questions, and then the trustees would have to pass a resolution in order to petition the USPS to put the boxes in their parking lot.
Hurley added that the trustees should talk to Dola Postmaster Dilts if they have any questions or concerns, but he was also in favor of the idea.
Meyers noted that the process is about four months long to determine whether or not to close the Dola Post Office, and a plan of action would have to be in place before that period ends. He urged the residents present to speak with their township trustees about the community box idea soon.
Meyers concluded by saying that there would not be any more public meetings on the matter, and the results of the Discontinuance Feasibility Study will be posted in the Dola Post Office as soon as they are received back from Washington, D.C.