Mt. Lebanon post office closure looms

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The U.S. Postal Service said this month that it may shut down Mt. Lebanon's Washington Road Post Office, an announcement that has upset many of the area's residents and business owners.

Uptown Business Association president Joe Ravita, the owner of Empire Music, a guitar store at 719 Washington Road, said he uses the Post Office across the street daily.

"A post office is as big a draw as you can get," he said. "It's a service a lot of residents count on."

If the postal service chooses to close down the office at 714 Washington, Mr. Ravita said his business would change to UPS for its day-to-day shipping, though it would probably still use the postal service for international shipping.

The postal service won't make decisions about local branch closures for a few months as it continues to study ways to reduce its costs, spokesman Tad Kelley said.

In the Pittsburgh area, the service is also considering closing three other post offices: the Sheraden post office at 651 Hillsboro Street, the Homewood branch at 566 Brushton Avenue and the Neville Township branch at 115 2nd Street.

As a result of the economic recession and more people using the Internet, the postal service handled 9 billion fewer pieces of mail this year than last year, which means it is facing a loss this year of nearly $7 billion in revenue.

So they are taking a hard look at ways to compensate for this financial loss, Mr. Kelley said.

"We have to adjust our workload to our facilities to the number of personnel that we have to do the job and make smarter decisions like taking a look at our postal branches and seeing how the public is served," he said.

Some of the criteria the postal service is weighing include the proximity of other post offices in the area, the alternate services in the area, the cost of staffing the branch and whether the buildings are leased.

He pointed out that only 19 percent of Mt. Lebanon's Post Office boxes are rented out, that the Castle Shannon branch is less than a mile away and that there are other places in the area, such as Giant Eagle and CVS, where people can buy stamps.

But many Mt. Lebanon residents say the Washington Road branch -- zip code 15228 -- is vital for local businesses and for the senior citizens who live in the area and enjoy the ability to walk to a post office.

"I would say that it is robustly used," Commercial Districts Manager Eric Milliron said. "I've never been in there once when I haven't seen a customer. It's in the heart of our Downtown."

Residents have called upon local elected officials to persuade the Post Office to keep the branch open, and have also circulated a petition saying the same.

The Post Office welcomes the public's input about possible branch closures, Mr. Kelley said.


Kaitlynn Riely can be reached at kriely@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1707.


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