Friday, March 2, 2012

Tucson Mail Service Going to Hell in a Hand Basket (via Phoenix) with Planned Cherrybell Mail Center Closure

Posted By on Fri, Mar 2, 2012 at 9:00 AM

People often peg one of Tucson’s greatest charms as being a fairly sizable city that has not lost its small town feel. Well, that small town feel is going to get even smaller when the planned U.S. Postal Service closure of the Tucson mail processing center goes through.

No closure date is yet set, but the plan to shutter the Cherrybell Postal Processing and Distribution Center is well underway. Our mail processing will move just up the road a bit to a Phoenix facility. We can wave goodbye to next-day first class delivery, for sure. We can also probably end up driving or even walking a piece of mail across town quicker than the mail service would be able to do it.

And we can kiss the Tucson postmark au revoir and have all our mail instead stamped with Phoenix. This may be the saddest development of all, since those not familiar with Arizona often have trouble spelling Tucson. The postmark at least ensured the spelling was reinforced every time we sent someone a cheery postcard or other piece of mail.

But it shall be no more.

Several City Council Members have already spoken out against the closure, with Ward Five’s Richard Fimbres going as far to start an online petition. The petition has so far only accumulated about 1,260 signatures, certainly keeping that small town feeling alive and well when it comes to support for big issues that can mess up the mail.

If it’s any consolation, Tucson is not alone in this brilliant plan. A total of 223 mail processing closures are planned across the nation in the USPS’s bid to save $20 billion. Another large handful already closed last year, including one in Flagstaff.

Also on last year’s list were processing centers in Stockton, California, with a population of approximately 288,000; Daytona Beach, Florida, with a population of approximately 64,000; and Twin Falls, Idaho, with a population of approximately 43.000. Lafayette, Indiana, with its estimated 66,000 residents was also on the list, as was Worland, Wyoming, and its roughly 5,000 folks.

Round one complete, the USPS got out the bigger guns to close down facilities in bigger locales. This year’s planned closures include facilities in Fort Worth and Corpus Christi, Texas, with populations of about 728,000 and 287,000, respectively; and Staten Island, New York, one of New York City’s five boroughs with a population of about 481,000.

The population estimations only consider residents of that particular city, and not local businesses or residents throughout the surrounding regions that also rely on the mail facilities. The population in Tucson proper is about 549,000, according to City-Data, but it leaps to more than 1 million when you include residents living throughout Pima County and the local businesses.

So let’s cut off their mail service. OK, we’ll be fair. The postal service is not cutting off our mail service. They are simply relocating the processing up the road a bit, just a hop, skip and an annoying 100-plus mile jump through multiple blowing dust zones.

We can understand closing and moving a mail processing facility that serves a population of about 5,000. We can even say OK to closing facilities that serve fewer than 100,000 if we want to cut the USPS some slack even though it seems to raise postage rates at random yet regular intervals.

But closing the Tucson-area facility leaves more than 1 million residents and hundreds of thousands of business in the lurch, likely faced with higher postage rates for certain services and slower delivery all around. It also kicks nearly 300 local folks out of work, with the nationwide closures killing off a total of 35,000 jobs.

And just think what will happen with things like vote-by-mail, which shall release a deluge that has the potential power to clog up the whole system. Our weekly supermarket junk mail coupons may not arrive until well after the sales are finished or, are the very least, after others have already scooped up the $4.88 rising-crust DiGiorno pizzas.

Not only will our mail be delayed, but we are likely to starve to death if this planned closure goes through. So what can we do about it?

Signing the petition may be cool, although moving to Phoenix or a place closer to a processing facility is definitely another option. Just don’t pick Fort Worth, Corpus Christi or Staten Island. And we’re not even sure at this rate if mail will ever even get to Worland, Wyoming, so you may want to cross it off your list.

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