In a city without regular door-to-door mail service, the post office becomes a gathering place. Residents fetching their mail pause to chat or to look at grade-schoolers’ construction-paper snowmen and kangaroos decorating the walls.
Why, then, city leaders ask, has Cordova’s post office been allowed to fall into visible disrepair? Two of the post office’s three public entrance doors have had their closing mechanisms broken: one during an intense windstorm Friday, Oct. 2, and the other more than a year ago. One door is propped closed with a trash can to keep it from flapping the wind. The city has heard a lot of concern about conditions at its post office — not from postal employees, but from the public at large, Mayor Clay Koplin said.
When postal employees weren’t issued transparent sneeze guards to block transmission of the novel coronavirus, they whipped up their own out of flexible vinyl sheeting. However, this initiative only earned them a reprimand, Councilman Tom Bailer said.
In a Sept. 14 letter, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, praised Koplin for his advocacy for the Postal Service. Murkowski outlined the proposed USPS Fairness Act, which would repeal the requirement that the Postal Service annually prepay future employees’ retirement health benefits. Murkowski also announced her support for the inclusion of significant emergency appropriations for the Postal Service in the next coronavirus relief package. However, when Murkowski’s letter was presented to Cordova City Council, Bailer questioned what these measures would do to fix the Cordova Post Office’s increasingly urgent maintenance problems.
“The issue remains here, with our local post office, of the deplorable conditions both inside and outside,” Bailer said at a Wednesday, Oct. 7 city council meeting. “The place is really a mess … I hope we can still find a way to pressure them to do something about the conditions here.”
Employee areas at the Cordova Post Office are in even greater disrepair than the public spaces, Bailer said.
Koplin said he intends to write a letter to state Postal Service leaders raising the issue of maintenance of Cordova Post Office. Koplin hopes that, if the requests of postal employees haven’t been enough to convince the Postal Service to repair its Cordova facility, a request from the city may do the trick.
“When our postal employees don’t have the resources to keep that facility maintained and sanitary, it does impact the community,” Koplin said. “It’s something that the council is really driving. They really want to ask the Post Office to please maintain the facility in Cordova. Just about every citizen accesses it.”