Delivery dilemma for some Waterloo residents - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Delivery dilemma for some Waterloo residents

by Bob Waters

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- The U.S. Postal Service motto says they deliver through rain, snow or shine but with your help.

The Postal Service mailing standards state:

"Customers must keep the approach to their mailboxes clear of obstructions to allow safe access for delivery. If USPS employees are impeded in reaching a mail receptacle, the postmaster may withdraw delivery service."

Last winter, people living in a 6 block section of Franklin Street in Waterloo didn't receive their mail for more than a month.

The Waterloo postmaster decided it was unsafe for delivery because of icy conditions.

He says several factors are in play: a very busy street, no on-street parking, and in some cases, no way for carriers to avoid dangerous ice and snow plowed from the road.

Changes to service there don't sit well with at least one resident.

Orrin Miller has lived on Franklin Street in Waterloo for 35 years.

But last year brought a first.

No mail for 6 weeks due to ice and snow.

"Never had a problem in 35 years until last year. Last year was the first year. It's the first year I've gotten a letter on it," said Miller.

That letter is a notice sent to about 85 people who live on a 7 block stretch of Franklin.

It's a reminder for residents to keep their walkways clear.

"I feel Franklin Street is being unfairly singled out. I realize there are problems with abandoned houses and vacant lots but it's no worse than anywhere else in the city," said Miller.

But the postmaster says it only takes one obstruction on this street that creates a risk for the letter carrier.

"The carrier cannot take any type of shortcut to get from one residence to another. They can't safely park on the street," said Waterloo Postmaster Greg Barnes.

Barnes says the other option is for the carrier to walk into the street.

He says that wouldn't be safe in snow and ice.

One solution being proposed by the Postal Service is to install cluster box units. Where they would be placed on Franklin Street and how many would be installed is still to be determined but residents would have the final say.

"We just can't arbitrarily change delivery without getting some type of input from customers in the area. Not unless it's a safety issue 24/7," said Barnes.

Meantime, Miller and his neighbors will consider the change though Miller's not sure he'll go along with it.

"I think it might be the mailman just doesn't like Franklin Street," joked Miller.

Barnes says it would take a clear majority of residents to make a change here

A change he says wouldn't happen until after this winter.

He says the notice was a first step to seeing what the residents want and reminding them to keep their walkways clear.

In Waterloo, people are given 72 hours to clear their walks of snow, but they usually won't get a citation from the city until there is a complaint.

Online Reporter:  Bob Waters

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