Postal Service plans to downsize in Everett

EVERETT — U.S. Postal Service officials on Wednesday announced plans to downsize Everett’s downtown Post Office and combine two facilities near Paine Field.

The Postal Service wants to move its main post office at the corner of Hoyt and Pacific avenues to a yet-to-be-determined building less than a third the size. There are no near-term plans for layoffs or service cuts.

“The main post office here will remain in place,” USPS real estate specialist Angela Kuhl told the City Council during this week’s meeting. “You would actually get an updated, new post office.”

The new downtown building, she said, would be “as close as possible to the current location.”

No timeline was given.

The efforts to liquidate USPS infrastructure are part of a nationwide effort. For now, no other big changes are imminent in Snohomish County, said Ernie Swanson, a Postal Service spokesman. Earlier plans to replace the downtown Edmonds post office have been put on hold.

The changes come as part of the Postal Service’s struggle to adjust to falling First-Class Mail volumes, as more people correspond by email and pay bills online. Troubles also stem from a requirement to pre-fund USPS retiree health benefits.

As a result, the USPS suffered a $5 billion loss in 2013 and nearly $16 billion in 2012.

In another sign of the Postal Service’s financial distress, the price of a First-Class stamp rose by 3 cents this week, to 49 cents.

The main Everett post office on 3102 Hoyt Ave. includes about 45,000 square feet. The building dates from 1964, according to Snohomish County Assessor records.

A new building with about 12,500 square feet could accommodate those operations, Kuhl said. The goal is to continue all current business, including passport services, at the new building.

Separately, USPS would shut down operations at its Paine Field facility and move them to another building it owns about three miles away on Hardeson Road, Kuhl said.

The facility known as Paine Field Station, on 2201 100th St. SW, would close and be put up for sale. That site only opened its public service counter in 2011, after the USPS shut down another local branch. Before that, it served primarily as a base for mail carriers.

Operations at 8120 Hardeson Road were downsized in 2012 when the Postal Service consolidated mail-processing operations in Seattle. Nearly 100 people lost jobs as a result.

Post office boxes at Paine Field Station would move to Hardeson Road under the new plan.

Before Wednesday’s City Council meeting, the main public notice came in the form of letters taped on post office front doors. The one downtown read:

“As part of a national effort, the Postal Service has been engaged in re-evaluating its facilities. As a self-supporting government agency that receives no tax dollars for its operating expenses, the Postal Service must rely on the sale of postage products and services to generate revenue.”

The letter told people they could learn more at a community meeting. In fact, that meeting was the public comment period allotted at the beginning of Wednesday’s City Council meeting. Kuhl spoke for a few minutes, then stayed in the council lobby to answer questions afterward.

“I don’t think that is adequate notice,” City Council President Jeff Moore said.

The USPS closure process does not directly involve city government, Mayor Ray Stephanson said. The city may become involved in the preparation of a new facility, if zoning changes or building permits are necessary.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

Have your say

To comment on the U.S. Postal Service changes planned in Everett, write (a letter) to:

Angela Kuhl, USPS real estate specialist

7500 E 53rd Place, suite 1108

Denver, CO 80266-9918

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