Arlington post office shut down under emergency suspension - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Arlington post office shut down under emergency suspension

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ARLINGTON (KWWL) -

As we've reported, several of our state's post offices could be closing, primarily due to federal budget cuts.  But in one small eastern Iowa town, the post office is closing now, upsetting many community residents who only learned of the shut down a few days ago.  The US Post Office says it's suspending Arlington's operations because of a failure to work out a lease with the current landlord.

Arlington is a town of just more than 400 people.  One of the few establishments that has remained in town, even as the population has dwindled, is the post office.  But as of Thursday, it will be closed indefinitely.

"It's a real concern.  I just relocated here from St. Louis a year ago.  And as we looked at towns and houses, one of the things that drew me to this town was the fact it had a bank, a post office, a locker, quick trip, and a gas station," said Arlington resident Gary Heaton.

So now, Heaton and other Arlington residents are upset that they'll be losing one of those staples, the community post office.  But they're furious at how little notice they were given.  A letter dated April 18 was sent to local residents, saying that the post office would suspend services as of April 27.  However, the following page of the letter says that, by law, "no post office may be closed sooner than 60 days after the public posting of the final decision."

"We feel that we were broad sided by the post office and not given the time to come up with a viable solution," Heaton said.

Arlington's mayor met with officials at the Iowa Consumer Affairs Division in Des Moines Wednesday, hoping to convince anyone who would listen that the city should be allowed to keep its post office.  The city has even offered up two other buildings for the post office, if a lease couldn't be worked out with the current landlord.

"I have a little glimmer of hope that maybe we get something back in town.  It's just so sad that people ended up with about a 5 day notice on what's happened," said Arlington Mayor Donald Handel.

And that's what the letter from the post office confirms.  The post office shut down might not be permanent, stating "the change is tentative and will not lead to a formal proposal unless we conclude that it will provide a maximum degree of regular and effective postal services."  But for now, the contents of the post office building are being stripped out and outdoor multi-unit mail boxes are installed for PO Box holders.

A local Arlington bank has offered to begin selling books and rolls of stamps.  And city hall is looking to install a postal scale to help people with mailing smaller items.  But package mailing and pick-up will have to be done at the post office in Lamont, 11 miles away.

Additional Notes:

The US Postal Service in Kansas City says that this is an unusual situation.  It hopes to work with the community to reinstate the post office, but cannot comment specifically on why lease negotiations have been unsuccessful in Arlington.  It's likely that another community meeting will be schedule to discuss the future of the post office in town.

Currently, Arlington's mayor is not aware of any post office plans to permanently close the city's post office due to financial concerns.  (Currently more than 40 Iowa post offices are being considered for closure for financial reasons.)

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