'Cluster boxes' may replace home mailboxes

'Cluster boxes' may replace home mailboxes

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by Katherine Cook, KGW Staff

kgw.com

Posted on July 24, 2013 at 6:14 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 24 at 6:14 AM

PORTLAND -- The way people get their mail could be changing. Law makers are proposing cutting door-to-door mail delivery service, meaning that some might never see their letter carriers.

The US Postal Service would install "cluster boxes" in all neighborhoods-- even older, established ones.

The groups of locked mailboxes are already popular in new-home developments.

California Rep. Darrell Issa came up with the idea that would save the postal service $4.5 billion dollars a year. That's compared to the estimated $3 billion in savings that cutting Saturday mail delivery would have saved.

The Postal Service dropped that idea earlier this year.

The National Association of Letter Carriers opposes the idea, saying it would cut up to 100,000 letter carrier jobs and eliminate the unique role letter carriers play within their communities.

"If the mail is sitting in their mailbox from the day before, we knock on the door," said Kevin Card, president of the local branch of The National Association of Letter Carriers. "We save lives every single day in this country, you just don't hear about it because it's just what we do."

Some neighbors like Arthur Orcutt enjoy having their mail delivered to cluster boxes.

"We know it's secure and nobody's stealing it or putting garbage in our box," said Orcutt.

Other neighbors like Anna Thorn depend on home mail delivery. "My husband is mobility-impaired and if he wasn't able to get to the [cluster box], it would be a hardship for him," said Thorn.

With growing popularity of online bill paying services, The Postal Service continues to struggle with volume.

Even so, Card said cutting door-door delivery is not the answer.

"The people who proposed this thing haven't carried mail before," said Card. "I hope neighbors who appreciate what we do will let their local lawmakers know."

 

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