Rep. Larsen urges USPS to reconsider closure of Everett mail facility

Nov 10, 2011

Everett Herald

By Debra Smith

November 10, 2011

EVERETT -- The U.S. Postal Service isn't considering what it would truly cost Snohomish County if an area mail processing facility closed, Rep. Rick Larsen said Wednesday.

The quality of mail delivery would "greatly diminish" in an area stretching from here to the Canadian border, the 2nd District Democrat said.

People and businesses counting on a one-day local turnaround for mail instead might wait two or three days.

"The full costs of the loss of this resource to the community do not seem to have been adequately taken into account," wrote Larsen, who sent a letter to the postmaster general urging the agency to keep the facility open.

The Postal Service has been studying whether to consolidate operations at 252 locations across the country to help stave off financial disaster.

One of those is a facility in Everett at 8120 Hardeson Road that processes 1 million outgoing letters and parcels mailed daily from Lynnwood north. Businesses also drop off bulk mail. The Everett center also is one of only four Postal Service locations in the region where people can take last-minute tax returns.

Management personnel in the Postal Service's Seattle District Office conducted the study. Preliminary results show that the closure of the Everett facility would save $11.6 million annually and result in 97 lost jobs. Those operations would be consolidated at a Seattle facility.

The Postal Service plans a public meeting to talk about the proposal at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Snohomish County PUD building, 2320 California St., Everett.

Larsen visited the Everett mail processing facility earlier this week, and that visit has him convinced that closing the operation would be a blow to the region.

The loss of the facility would render many of the 300 people who work there unemployed or force them to relocate, he said.

The initial study also didn't consider alternatives to a full closure or the cost of processing the mail in Seattle if that facility has to deal with the county's mail, Larsen said. He called the true costs of closure "nebulous."

Some people who work at the facility told Larsen they were concerned the Postal Service's study and public meeting were merely perfunctory, and the decision was already decided.

"I hope this is not window dressing on a decision that is already made," he said.

The Postal Service won't know what it might cost to expand operations in Seattle until the study is completed, said Ernie Swanson, Postal Service spokesman.

After the public meeting, there will be a 15-day period during which people can submit a written statement to the Seattle District Office, Swanson said. Those comments, along with the comments from the meeting, will go into the package being prepared by the Seattle District on the proposal.

Once that package is completed, it will go to the Western Area Office in Denver for review and then on to USPS headquarters in Washington, D.C.

A final decision is expected next year.