Shelter Island Reporter Editorial: A problem or an opportunity?

REPORTER FILE PHOTO The Center Post Office.
REPORTER FILE PHOTO The Center Post Office.

We were happy to see a response from the United States Postal Service to the mail mess at the Center Post Office. But it might not be the correct one.

In a recent letter to the editor USPS Long Island District Manager Frank Calabrese apologizes to the community for the lack of service during the holidays. He adds that he’s on the case to make it better.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas and beyond, a lack of punctual mail delivery wasn’t unusual in the Center, it was the norm.

Many people went several days without receiving any mail at all. Missing a Christmas card is an inconvenience; not receiving a needed check for days is appalling.

It doesn’t seem to be a problem with a massive increase in customers. According to the research firm City-Data, in 2013 there were 1,846 residents in the 11964 ZIP code, 12 less than in 2010.

In his letter to the Reporter, Mr. Calabrese said he had visited both Island post offices and was “re-establishing techniques” to improve service. But the district manger blames the situation on the customers; people are not including P.O. box numbers, but just using street addresses. Since there’s no home delivery, post office employees can’t deliver the mail to the appropriate boxes.

Question: Why has the problem of only street addresses causing glacial service surfaced now and not in the past? To say, as Mr. Calabrese does, that it’s because of a lack of familiarity with customers, that in the good old days everyone knew each other and postal workers could direct mail to proper boxes, is an excuse, not a solution.

We commend Mr. Calabrese for visiting the Island and looking into the situation. We appreciate his apology for the long lines, frustrations and, in some cases, hardship caused by service at the Center slowing to a pace that would put a tortoise to shame.

Mr. Calabrese ends his letter by writing: “My best attention to Shelter Island is assured.” We’ll take him at his word, and hope he sees the problems as an opportunity to provide proper service.