February 16, 2021

Neguse, Bennet, Hickenlooper Express Concerns with Local Post Office Operations in Estes Park, Drake and Glen Haven

After hearing complaints from local residents, the lawmakers request answers on operations and staffing concerns 

Washington D.C.— Today, Congressman Joe Neguse, joined by Senator Michael Bennet and Senator John Hickenlooper, sent a letter expressing concerns with current USPS operations in Estes Park, Drake and Glen Haven, Colorado 

“Over the past few months and even years, our offices have heard numerous complaints from dozens of constituents about problems with mail service to these communities. The complaints detailed chronic and ongoing issues with mail, including bills and medications, not being delivered,” states the letter from the lawmakers. “In these mountain communities, it is necessary that the USPS delivers important medication, bills, or other important documents accurately and in a timely manner, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

The letter asks the following questions of the Vice President of Area Retail and Delivery Operations for the Western Pacific Area—which includes Colorado—about operations and staffing for these facilities:

  • Our constituents in Drake rely on picking up their mail from P.O. boxes at the post office, and the frequently changing and limited hours make it difficult for that service to be reliable. Can you confirm that this issue has been resolved?
  • After the Drake post office was removed due to damage from the 2013 floods, a permanent postal facility was not rebuilt. USPS has instituted a temporary facility in Drake in the lobby of the River Forks Inn. What are your plans to reinstate a permanent postal facility in Drake, instead of the current temporary facility? 
  • As you know, constituents in Estes Park, Drake, and Glen Haven have been contacting us since at least 2018 with concerns about the Estes Park post office, including missing mail and packages, mail delivered to incorrect addresses or incorrectly returned to sender, poor customer service, and a perceived hostile work environment for employees. We continue to hear these concerns. What is USPS currently doing to address these issues? More generally, what criteria have to be met for just cause to replace management at post offices?
  • We understand that the Estes Park postmaster is currently borrowing staff from other offices to staff Drake and Glen Haven and are appreciative of their efforts to increase staffing. However, it seems critical that additional efforts are made to permanently increase and retain additional staff, as these inconsistencies have been ongoing and we are continuing to hear complaints from constituents about delays in their mail delivery. What steps have you taken to hire additional postal workers in these facilities, or to bring in additional workers from nearby post offices to help with the staff shortages? Are you supporting pay increases or other methods to attract additional postal workers to the Estes Park, Drake, and Glen Haven post offices? Do you have a long-term plan in place to address the chronic understaffing issues in mountain and rural post offices?
  • We have heard concerns from constituents that their mail is not being delivered because of minor differences between the way their mail is addressed and the USPS address standards. Have you clearly communicated with constituents what these guidelines are, and in what scenarios packages or mail would be returned to sender? Is there a way you can facilitate the delivery of packages that may not be addressed properly but that are addressed in such a way that the destination is evident?
  • Regarding P.O. boxes in Glen Haven, our current understanding from USPS is that the HOA at The Retreat in Glen Haven made a decision in the fall of 2020 to forego the USPS offer to place a cluster box in their community, and that USPS therefore would begin to formally require residents to pay for P.O. boxes. However, some residents dispute that the HOA reached this decision or were unaware of any such decision. Can you please explain the reasoning for the USPS decision to charge Glen Haven and Drake residents for P.O. boxes beginning in February 2020 when they had not been charged for P.O. boxes in the years prior to that? Can you please provide us with documentation of the HOA decision and other documentation regarding your outreach to the community prior to this decision? Given that the decision was made in the fall, what are you planning to do regarding Glen Haven residents who have already paid for their P.O. boxes, and notifying these residents of this plan?
  • Our understanding is that the USPS is currently in similar negotiations with Drake residents in the Storm Mountain community. What is the status of these negotiations? Are residents being refunded what they have been required to pay for P.O. boxes, or have you suspended those charges until a formal decision is made?
  • As you know, there is a community petition to shift the management of the Drake post office from Estes Park to Loveland. Is there precedent for transferring the management of individual post offices to a nearby regional facility? If so, what criteria need to be in place for such a transfer?