Lititz not giving up on its post office

By on June 1, 2011

By: GARY P. KLINGER Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer

Photo by Gary P. Klinger
Tuesday was the final borough council meeting for junior member Aaron Graybill (center), as he will be graduating from Warwick High School June 16. Council recognized his service during this week's meeting. He is pictured here with councilman Doug Bomberger and council president Karen Weibel.Photo by Gary P. Klinger
Tuesday was the final borough council meeting for junior member Aaron Graybill (center), as he will be graduating from Warwick High School June 16. Council recognized his service during this week's meeting. He is pictured here with councilman Doug Bomberger and council president Karen Weibel.

"Every town deserves a post office!"

That was the proclamation of Lititz Borough Council Member Ruth Fry McKenon.

The fight is far from over in the ongoing effort to save the Lititz Post Office. Borough Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on the U.S. Postal Service to re-evaluate the sale and relocation of the downtown office.

"We’re not done yet," exclaimed council president Karen Weibel, "but it has been a tough slog."

In passing Resolution No. 770, council acknowledged that the USPS had issued a "Land/Building Disposal Announcement" dated May 23, 2011 with the intent to sell the downtown Lititz property located at 74 E. Main St. and relocate those postal boxes and services to the annex location at 5 Wynfield Drive in Warwick Township.

It also acknowledged while nationally USPS continues to operate at a deficit, the local post office has been quite profitable. The resolution also pointed to several other key factors which council called on USPS to take into full account before arbitrarily officially shuttering the location.

The resolution urged USPS to consider the negative impact closing the office would have on the 70 independently-owned downtown retail shops, restaurants and businesses, over 9,000 residents and 70,000 annual tourists that visit Lititz. It cited the fact that 448 post office boxes would be relocated, creating an inconvenience for patrons, especially the elderly and disabled for whom those boxes might become inaccessible.

Council shared the concern that closing the post office could "lead to a less vibrant downtown, urban blight and an undesirable quality of life, (all) characteristics local property and business owners have worked so hard for so many years to overcome."

In addition, the resolution reminded the USPS of its obligation and goal of the postal service to "serve all of the people equally as a government agency, and provide effective quality customer service.

Weibel, along with Venture Lititz president Gaylord Polling, continue to work with Congressman Joe Pitts’ office, through his representative Tom Tillet. She said she has also been in near constant contact with State Rep. John Bear, State Sen. Mike Brubaker and even officials from the postal workers union in regard to the matter. Local petitions thus far have collected over 300 signatures of concerned citizens calling on their government to heed their concerns. Yet, for all the effort, there is little sign the postal service will change course.

"From everything we are getting from these communications, closing the Lititz Post Office is still a plan, but needs final communication," said Weibel. "I’m not sure that gives us any hope, but we will keep chipping away."

Weibel urged local residents to join the fight to save the post office by contacting Congressman Pitts’ office via telephone, letters and e-mails.

"Make sure when contacting Congressman Pitts’ office that your name and address are taken by his officer in order to assure your comments are recorded and counted," Weibel added.

Interested residents may still sign the petition to save the post office. One copy is always kept at borough hall. Another is available at The Tigers Eye on East Main Street.

"I would like to hear from Pitts directly on this," asserted McKenon. "What can we do to hear from him directly?"

Council member Todd Fulginiti raised the possibility of postal operations perhaps continuing as a Contract Postal Unit or CPU. However, in discussing that possibility it became clear the relationship between USPS and it’s CPUs has continued to deteriorate, making that option unlikely for Lititz.

Council member Doug Bomberger also weighed in on the potential loss of the post office.

"That’s just irresponsible," said Bomberger. "It is that hard to put into word or to imagine that they would abandon that building and location. They make the rules, but they certainly don’t follow them."

In a letter to Mayor Ron Oettel, Richard Hancock, of the USPS Eastern Facility Service Center in Greensboro, N.C. responded to several questions raised at the May 11 meeting with community members. However, the letter offered no hope that the decision might be reconsidered and even less indication USPS has any intention of effectively addressing local concerns.

One such indication was that the letter said "There was no traffic study done for the original carrier annex project and the postal service will not be completing one as part of the proposed consolidation project."

Another indication from the letter stated that "USPS will comply with all federal, state and local codes and ordinances … to the greatest extent possible."

While the postal service is not obligated to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it does have its own similar Architectural Barriers Act which in effect does much the same thing.

In the meantime, local efforts to save the post office will continue.

In other business, council accepted the resignation of Zoning Hearing Board member Mark Boyer, who resigned because he is moving from the borough in June. Alternate Doug Matthews was approved to become a full member of the board. Tory Landis was approved as the new alternate.

Council also approved Steve and Jen Lee to become members of the Lititz Parks Committee.

Council approved requests for several upcoming special events:

The Annual Lititz Outdoor Fine Art Show will be held on July 30 in the Lititz Springs Park. A "Get Hooked on Drums … Not Drugs" event was approved for Aug. 6. The annual Lititz Rotary Craft Show was approved for Aug. 13, and the Lititz Lions Car Cruise was set for Aug. 17, with a rain date of Aug. 24. And finally, the Lititz recCenter’s 34th Annual Pretzel Twist 5 mile run and 5k walk was set for Sept. 17.

A date change for the 50th Anniversary Commemorative Weekend for the Lititz Springs Pool was also announced. The correct date is July 16-17. A ceremony marking the anniversary is scheduled in front of the pool on July 16 at 2 p.m., with a rain date of July 17. Other events are planned in conjunction with the anniversary, including a movie night, in-house games and events throughout the season.

Finally, council bid farewell to its junior council person, Aaron Graybill, who will be graduating from Warwick High School June 16. Council members congratulated Graybill on a job well done and wished him well as he begins at American University in Washington, D.C. in the fall, where he will undertake a double major in International relations and anthropology. More BOROUGH COUNCIL, page A15

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