By Adam Ilenich
Meridian Times Staff Writer
The United States Postal Service has announced that the Collins Road Post Office and Processing Center will merge with the Grand Rapids Center as part of its plan to save $3 billion a year.
According to a resolution sponsored by County Commissioner Andy Schor, the closure of Collins Road Center would eliminate 200-600 jobs with annual salaries of $40,000 to $60,000 resulting in $8 million-$30 million in salaries in the Lansing area going to the Grand Rapids area.
“There are going to be job losses, job transfers, and delay in mail delivery because it will take a lot longer to get where it needs to go,” Schor said. “We have expressed the opinions of our constituents, which is that we are opposed to eliminating the Collins Road Post Office because it is an essential mailing facility for the area.”
The closing of the Collins Road processing center will affect the surrounding areas, including Meridian Township, because it is the only processing center in the capital area. The smaller post offices depend on it for timely distribution of mail, and this closure would affect the 39,668 people residing in Meridian Township alone.
John Veenstra, Meridian Township Trustee, also opposes the action taken by the Postal Service to shut down the post office and processing center.
“The idea to close the Collins Road Processing Center, and truck 5 million pieces of mail a year to Grand Rapids to be processed and then trucked back, and cause two to three days delay in mailing from Lansing to get delivered to people in the Lansing area is just insane,” Veenstra said. “I cannot understand trucking mail that is mailed in the Lansing area to Grand Rapids to be processed and then trucked back and causing a delivery delay. How does that increase post office efficiency?”
Executive director at Tri-County Regional Planning Commission Susan Pigg said, “We’re concerned about the attractiveness of this area to potential business locations. The processing center and the post office are an amenity, a service of our area that’s important for business as well as the local governments including Meridian, Lansing, Ingham and others close by.”
If businesses cannot send their mail in a timely manner and communicate with their customers, it will be more difficult to attract them, Pigg said.
Residents throughout Meridian Township have mixed feelings about the closure, but some who own or participate in local business are showing clear disapproval.
“My mail carrier comes out of the Okemos Post Office, but with the main processing center closing the mail will have to be shipped out and then shipped back before I get it. It’s acceptable, because I know what they’re going through, especially given the economy. I can live with it I’ll just have to plan a bit more ahead of time,” said Okemos resident Alana Cunningham.
Jamie Foster, a resident of Haslett who works for the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police disagrees.
“I work for an association, so I use the post office daily for mailings,” Foster said. “I personally think it’s foolish for them to close post offices in capital cities. A good share of the associations in Michigan are based in the immediate area and it’s going to be a real hardship for us, for our mail to have to go to Grand Rapids in order to get it to go out. The Legislature is here. This isn’t the one that should be closed.”
Vicki Parmer, a resident of Meridian Township, relies on the post office for the business that she owns with her husband to contact their clients and also for payment.
“My husband checks the post office box daily for his office. He owns a consulting firm and that’s our livelihood. It’s the convenience of receiving our mail on time, but it really comes down to money. You do the work but you don’t get the checks, and on top of that now we have to wait even longer with the delay from Grand Rapids,” said Parmer.
Sabrina Todd, Customer Relations Coordinator for the United States Postal Service, said, “Our plan is to be here for the American public, to service them as far as the postal service is concerned. But we have to do what any household has to do, if they need to keep their budget intact. We have to do those necessary things as well, to keep our household running as it were.”