HOPKINTON — The Hopkinton Town Council has sent letters to officials at the U.S. Postal Service, urging them to keep the post office at 482 Main St. open for at least six hours a day. The facility, which currently operates during regular business hours, rents 1,500 square feet of office space and 3,500 feet of parking space at the town-owned Thayer House for $1,070 per month. The lease, in effect since 1995, expires in October 2015.
The Postal Service is closing or reducing the operating hours of post offices across the country as part of an ongoing cost-cutting effort. In addition to the Hopkinton branch, there are three other post offices in town: in Ashaway, Hope Valley and Rockville. The larger Ashaway and Hope Valley branches are expected to remain open, but the Rockville facility, which rents space from a private entity, is also being considered for closure or shorter hours of operation. However, it is the Hopkinton post office that most concerns the town because of its importance to the vitality of the historic village area known as Hopkinton City.
The letters to the Postal Service, dated June 20 and signed by Town Manager William McGarry, explain the reasons for the town’s opposition to closing the post office or reducing its hours of operation. They were sent to several officials: Hopkinton Postmaster Sandra Beaudreau, and Postal Service district manager David Mastroianni, human resources manager Teresa Bruso, and Steven LaChapelle, Providence operations manager.
“Such a move would constitute a severe hardship to the community,” McGarry wrote. “Many town residents and business owners rely on the Hopkinton Branch Office, as evidenced by the constant stream of pedestrian traffic into and out of the building on a daily basis.”
The letters noted that business at the branch had increased this year, with the opening of 12 new post office boxes and a 20 percent increase in revenue over 2013.
Richard Prescott, Hopkinton Historic District Commission chairman, agreed that the Hopkinton post office was an important feature of the historic village’s character, but he added that it had not always been a fixture in town.
“The post office moved around a lot,” he said. “Every time the postmaster changed, the location changed because the postmaster ran it out of their place of business or their house.”
Doris Silks, who has lived near the post office for 58 years, said she felt it was an integral feature of the town that should remain open on a full-time basis.
“It has historic significance, because it is the oldest post office in town. It is the only one that carries the name of the town. It is centrally located. The others are not. It also services the Town Hall and the municipal offices, so it’s the convenience of being their next door neighbor. If it’s put on a four-hour basis, it becomes part time and we do not have our own postmaster,” she said.
Town Council President Frank Landolfi said he had contacted Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and U.S. Jim Langevin, D-2nd District, to make them aware of the importance of the post office.
“I emailed them to ask them to look into it and see about keeping it open at least six hours, so the postmaster keeps her job and service remains relatively uninterrupted,” he said.
As an additional incentive for keeping the Main Street facility open, Landolfi said the council would consider lowering the rent.
“The council didn’t want to commit to a certain amount, but we added a caveat that if the rent reduction factors into the decision in keeping it open at least six hours, then we’re willing to look at that, but if it’s not, then we’re not going to lower it,” he said.
The Postal Service has scheduled public hearings on the future of the Hopkinton and Rockville post offices. They will take place at Town Hall on July 30 at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.
Prescott said he didn’t know whether the efforts to keep the post office open would be successful.
“We can make a lot of noise, but whether we’re going to be able to affect a change of their decision from Washington, I don’t know,” he said.
Several Postal Service officials contacted for this article did not respond to requests for comment.
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