CHERAW — A move by the United States Postal Service to shut down the downtown post office still has Mayor Scott Hunter and others riled up. Town officials are fighting the proposal to consolidate operations and combine the retail and post office box operation with a postal carrier annex located on Hwy. 9, about three miles outside of town.
Hunter hopes the town can convince the Postal Service to keep the downtown post office open, and they’ve enlisted the help of U.S. Congressman Mick Mulvaney.
Mulvaney said he is on a fact-finding mission, in an effort to get some solid numbers from the Postal Service about the downtown post office and the distribution annex on Hwy. 9.
“Were trying to help the folks back home get as much information as they can,” Mulvaney said.
The Town of Cheraw received a letter May 4 from the Postal Service, notifying the town of its intention to consolidate operations and close the old post office, stating “The Postal Service will then prepare the property for sale. Upon receipt of an acceptable offer, the main office retail and PO box operations will be relocated to the Cheraw carrier annex.”
Hunter and others hope to get the Postal Service to do nearly the exact opposite — close the annex and bring those services to a revamped downtown post office.
“If the Postal Service put pencil to paper, they might find it’s just as cheap and they’d probably save money by keeping the downtown center and selling the one on the highway. We are working on the feasibility of that, and the congressman is helping us with that,” Hunter said.
Mulvaney is seeking details in a recent letter he penned to the Postal Service.
“I understand from your letter that the United States Postal Service (USPS) is operating under a strict budget and dealing with the consequences of reduced mail volume in the past three years. I am trying to better understand the economic concerns that prompted the decision to consolidate operations in the annex,” the congressman wrote.
Mulvaney then goes on to ask very pointed questions, including “how much money, per year, does the USPS expect to save by consolidating all operations in the annex?” and “What are the projected costs to renovate the annex in order to allow for retail postal service?”
Mulvaney also approaches the idea of closing the newer annex in favor of maintaining the traditional post office building downtown.
“What was the rationale for deciding to close the downtown main office and consolidate operations in the annex instead of closing the annex and consolidating operations at the downtown main office?,” Mulvaney asks in his letter.
The downtown property currently used as the post office was built in 1933, and according to many is the second most historically significant structure in the downtown area that is still occupied and functioning.
“The post office has always been an anchor of our downtown,” the mayor said.
At a recent meeting hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, residents voiced concerns about losing the historic structure, about the potential negative impact on the economic development in the downtown area, and also concerns that some people may have difficulty getting to the mail distribution center on Hwy. 9.
Hunter is preparing to ask the town council at its regular meeting Tuesday, June 14, to adopt a formal proposal asking the Postal Service to do the exact opposite of what is now proposed.
“Let’s revamp the downtown location and sell the property on Highway 9,” Hunter said. He hopes the council will agree to ask the Postal Service: “Tell us why this idea would not work.”
Attempts to close the location in 1996 were halted when town officials and preservationists enlisted Congressman John Spratt to help save the building and another attempt in 2009 was halted by town officials and members of Cheraw, Inc. who solicited the help of Congressman Spratt and Senator Graham.
In a resolution drafted by members of Cheraw, Inc. in 2009, members stated that the closing of the post office would be like “thrusting a dagger into the heart of the Cheraw community.”