Bondville Residents Worry About Losing Post Office
The U.S. Postal Service is considering shutting down several of its offices in an effort to fill a $10 billion budget deficit. The days may be numbered for one small-town post office in Champaign County.
Mike Pfundstein manages 83 post offices in east central Illinois, and more than 20 are being reviewed for possible closure, including one in Bondville. By the first half of next year, Pfundstein said the fate of those offices will likely be determined. He said about 35 percent of the postal service's operations happen outside of traditional "brick and mortar buildings."
"So, what we're looking at is how could we best expend our resources to give the people the same service and value that they've always had," he explained. "At the same time conserve our resources, so that we can stay in business to serve the American public."
Pfundstein held a town hall meeting Thursday night in Bondville to hear what it would mean for residents to lose their post office. The town has a population of about 450 people. Many of the roughly 30 people who showed up addressed the inconvenience closing the post office would cause on low-income and elderly people who would be forced to travel to Champaign to access the nearest post office.
"It's out of the way. I've got less than two block from where I'm at right now," said Bob Apperson, 76, who run a personalized t-shirt business and makes frequent trips to the post office to send out order information.
At the meeting, there was also a concern about what losing the post office could do to Bondville's community's identity.
"It kind of holds Bondville together, I guess," said Shirley Adams, 72, who has lived in Bondville for the last 55 years. "We don't have any businesses out here much to speak of, and we just want our post office to stay."
Pfundstein said customers shouldn't expect a dramatic drop in service if the post office ends up closing.
"The postal service's commitment is that we will still maintain all of the services that they get," Bondville said. "It's just that we would not do it through a brick and mortar building. We would do it through other means."
If Bondville does lose its post office, one of three things could happen -mail boxes could be stored at an existing business, mail could be left in curbside boxes, or the postal service would install cluster boxes along the road for delivery.
Pfundstein is in the process of leading similar discussions in roughly two dozen other nearby communities where post offices may be shut down.