Minnehaha station may be moved
By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
The Minnehaha Post Office may not be returning to 3033 27th Ave. S.
The building was destroyed by fire along with the majority of the block during the civil unrest in May 2020 after the murder of George Floyd. The only building still standing is the one that houses Glass Endeavors.
A postcard sent at the end of December to those in the 55406 zip code asked for resident feedback about relocating the post office.
The postcard stated the United States Postal Service is looking for a location with 13,130 square feet building with 91plus parking spaces, and a retail area with 2,500 square feet with an area to be transformed into a carrier building that is 10,110 square feet. Alternatively, they are seeking leads on land to purchase that is 84,000 square feet.
Comments were due by mid-January. There wasn’t a way to submit them electronically, but they needed to be mailed to PO Box 27497, Greensboro, NC 27498-1103.
“My understanding is that the property owner who was leasing to USPS wants to pursue different plans for what is built on the now cleared site, so USPS is looking for another location,” said Ward 12 Council member Andrew Johnson. “Interestingly enough, the timing may be good because they have experienced some logistical challenges with smaller locations as their operations continue to change (i.e. shipping more packages due to online shopping). So from my understanding, finding a larger location is expected to improve operations.
“As part of their process for considering a new location they sent out a postcard to solicit feedback on high-level things that are important to the community. However, I know the postcard was vague and left many wanting more details. I reached out to our Congresswoman’s office and the Postmaster about this, and I know LCC has been engaged, too. It sounds like there are a lot of legal and procedural issues that led USPS to send that postcard rather than, for instance, hosting a virtual community meeting. At this time, my understanding is that the Postmaster is working on a formal response to these community concerns regarding engagement.
“The feedback I have heard from residents is that they want an accessible location (including by transit), with adequate parking for customers who drive, and full retail service,” remarked Johnson.
The previous Minnehaha Station was built in January of 1970 and was first occupied by USPS on March 1, 1970. The facility was built by the land owners and leased once the construction was completed.
The 0.7-acre lot (3037 27th Ave. S.) is currently owned by Ehlen Associates/Axtell & Haller LLC at 10510 France Ave. S. in Bloomington.
“While acquiring the current location and rebuilding is under consideration, the Minnehaha Station was a leased facility and not USPS owned,” said USPS Communications Specialist Nicole Hill. “There are a lot of nuts and bolts that go into that option as well as if we were to acquire another location nearby. Prices, contracts, location, accessibility and customer needs are all considered in all of our decisions.”
For now retail services for the two post offices that were destroyed have temporarily been moved to 10 W. Lake St. in the former K-Mart.
Mail delays reported
Businesses and individuals have been reporting delays in mail service since last summer.
The National Newspaper Association (NNA) informed its members that it is monitoring the worst systemwide mail delays and disruptions in decades. It has advised USPS of the problems its member newspapers are facing.
One of those dealing with issues is Jeff Wagner, the president of Iowa Information, a regional printing press that publishes four newspapers and a handful of shopping pamphlets.
As reported by Jacob Bogag in the Washington Post on Jan. 4, Wagner “hardly knew what to tell his delivery driver when the man returned one day in late December from a run to the post office in their northern Nebraska town with a trailer still full of newspapers. The post office wouldn’t take them, the driver said, as it had every Tuesday for decades, because it was so stacked up with packages and delayed mail there was simply no room. Wagner ... then checked his messages, where he found at least a half-dozen complaints about late or missing newspapers.”
Bogag also interviewed Matt Paxton, fourth-generation publisher of the 6,000-circulation News-Gazette in Lexington, Va. He “said the delivery issues began over the summer. That syncs with cost-cutting underway at the mail service, where Postmaster General Louis DeJoy had ordered a crackdown on overtime hours, late and extra mail delivery trips, and other well-established measures.”
The NNA issued a statement that went out to newspapers and their associations across the country, including the Minnesota Newspaper Association (MNA) members.
“We want publishers to understand that these delays are not just in their markets, nor the result of failures by printers or mail preparers. This is happening partly because of COVID-19-related personnel absences, but mostly because of record numbers of packages in the mail,” NNA Chair Brett Wesner, president of Wesner Publications in Cordell, Oklahoma, said. “We are in continuous conversation with the senior management at USPS about this problem.”
Nearly 19,000 workers were in quarantine at the end of 2020 after becoming infected or exposed to the virus, according to the American Postal Workers Union.
The Postal Service expected to deliver roughly 20 million packages a day during the holiday season, but that number has exceeded 40 million some days, according to USPS.
“The private couriers, like United Parcel Service, can decline to accept packages. We are receiving reports in the mailing industry that the private networks are overloaded so packages are being deferred to the Postal Service, which cannot refuse to accept them. This is particularly an issue for rural areas, where less dense deliveries are unprofitable for the private services but a required service for USPS. Unfortunately, that pushes a glut of package volume into the areas where many of our newspapers are also trying to reach subscribers,” Wesner said. NNA said it expected service to improve after the holiday package season ends, but cautioned that as vaccine deliveries are ramping up for the private couriers, USPS might still be the deliverer of last resort for packages displaced by the priority vaccine packages.
“Make sure members of Congress know you are having problems. This disruption is not only about packages. It is also about a neglected USPS that is being pressured to cut overtime and save money because Congress has not done its part to help create a sustainable service. Long term, we have to find the right fix to keep universal service alive,” Wesner said.
Customers who are experiencing delivery issues are encouraged to file a concern on USPS.com or call the customer service line to have a case opened for research: 1-800-ASK-USPS. USPS Communications Specialist Nicole Hill pointed out that while the system may run automated, once a concern is filed, it will be routed to the local office for them to investigate the issues.
Ward 12 Council member Andrew Johnson suggested signing up for Informed Delivery, so you know exactly what is supposed to arrive today and can compare what was sent to you with what showed up, checking in with neighbors to see if they have had issues, and contacting Congresswoman Omar’s office.