MONMOUTH — As a two-year national cost-saving process wraps up, changes are coming to the post offices in North Monmouth and other locations in central Maine.

The U.S. Postal Service is planning to cut back hours at the North Monmouth post office from seven hours and 15 minutes per weekday to four hours per weekday. Saturday hours and access to post office boxes in the lobby would remain unchanged.

The Postal Service is looking for community input about plans for the post office in advance of a public meeting on July 22, when they’ll present more information and share the results of a mail survey.

The Postal Service conducted similar meetings about the North Vassalboro and Wayne post offices last week, and one is scheduled in Belgrade Lakes on July 16. Meetings for a few others, such as the East Winthrop post office, have yet to be scheduled.

Several central Maine post offices, including the ones in Dresden, Kents Hill and East Vassalboro, have already had their hours reduced, mostly in early 2013.

The North Monmouth post office opened in its North Main Street location in 1957. Several people stopped at the office late Wednesday morning to mail packages or check their P.O. boxes.

“I’m sorry that there have to be cutbacks, but I realize there are fiscal considerations that have to be honored,” said Mel Mounts, a summer resident of the town for 20 years.

Mounts said because he’s retired, reduced hours shouldn’t be a major problem for him.

“I can come down any time of the day, but for people who have to be at work certain hours, it may be a hardship for them,” Mounts said.

It will be an inconvenience for people like Trevor Cooley, who receives both personal mail and checks and invoices for his commercial tire business in his P.O. box.

“I think it’s a pain in the neck,” Cooley said. “It’s not open enough now.”

Between closing the post office and cutting its hours, however, Cooley said he’ll take the latter.

The planned changes have all been part of a review process called Post Plan, which reduces window hours at rural post offices as an alternative to closing them altogether. The Postal Service published a list in May 2012 of about 13,000 post offices that would be affected, and the process is supposed to be completed by September. Most of the post offices will be open four or six hours per day, but some will have their hours reduced to two per day.

“When we first were talking about possible adjustments to our network, our customers seemed more comfortable reducing hours at some of the smaller rural post offices instead of having them closed,” Postal Service spokeswoman Melissa Lohnes said. “That’s why we took that approach instead of shutting them down.”

The Postal Service used data on foot traffic and usage to identify offices as candidates for the Post Plan.

Postal customers in the 04265 ZIP code in North Monmouth received a letter last week informing them of plans to cut back window service hours and asking for input via a mail survey that concludes July 8. The results of the survey will be presented at the public meeting, scheduled for 4 p.m. July 22 at the post office.

If more than 60 percent favor it, the Postal Service will study closing the post office and providing services through one of three other arrangements: roadside mailbox delivery, setting up a location in a local business or moving P.O. boxes to a nearby post office.

Susan McMillan — 621-5645

[email protected]

Twitter: @s_e_mcmillan


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