Open house will address post office consolidation

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

The real estate market may dictate whether Clovis residents will have one or two post office locations in the future.

An open house is scheduled 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. Thursday at 417 Gidding Street, the downtown Clovis Post Office property the United States Postal Service is trying to sell.

The postal service says the move is part of an effort to reduce an estimated $2 billion loss this year. Officials with the USPS plan to outline their concerns to consolidate at the public meeting.

If the USPS can sell the property, where it uses about 5,200 of its 28,000 total square feet of space and leases other portions, that office would close. All Clovis area postal operations would then be consolidated to the primary station at 1224 W. 21st Street.

If not, it’s business as usual and Clovis will continue to operate two facilities.

“We’re in the red and we’re trying to find facilities we can sell that people might be interested in buying,” said Barbara Wood, customer relations coordinator for the U.S. Postal Service’s Albuquerque district.

The district includes all of New Mexico and parts of Arizona.

“So far, we have not received an offer,” Wood said.

Wood could not confirm Tuesday the asking price.

Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield said a potential closure could hamper the downtown area, where plenty of banks and other businesses are a few blocks from the Gidding Street location.

“I think the main (concern) would be there’s not a post office where people could walk in that downtown area,” Brumfield said. “We’re trying to revitalize that area. There are a lot of people who don’t drive, and having it there helps the businesses.

“We feel like having the two post offices has worked for years and will continue to work.”

New Mexico’s federal representatives are also involved in the effort to keep the downtown Post Office open.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., sent a letter to Postmaster General John E. Potter asking the USPS reconsider the closure or consolidate to a location more central to Clovis.

Wood said relocating the 21st Street location was not an option because of the expenses associated with leasing or buying additional property.

Bingaman was not available to comment Tuesday due to Senate confirmation hearings.

But spokesperson Jude McCartin said it was important for the senator to express concerns without telling the Post Office — which is funded through the sale of postage — how it should conduct business.

“We can’t introduce a bill that says you must take this action,” McCartin said. “We’ve weighed in heavily with the Post Office and they’ve tried to respond to our concerns. We can definitely be another voice for the residents of Clovis.”

Wood said the frustration of Clovis residents is understandable.

“People don’t want to lose a post office in their community, even if there is (another) five minutes away,” Wood said. “They get used to going to that particular office.”