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March 15, 2013

Post office backs away from curbside edict

NORMAN — The post office has backed down.

Postmaster Jeff Vaughan wants to assure everyone living in a southwest Norman neighborhood that they don’t have to move their mailboxes to curbside by today.

Vaughan said that those in the neighborhood who have already erected curbside mailboxes can tear them down and revert back to home delivery via front porch mailboxes.

Less than two dozen customers  — out of an estimated 200 in the impacted neighborhood — have moved their boxes, although residents noticed a few more being erected at the curb during the latter part of this week.

Residents are surprised that the post office has changed its mind. Their first huge surprise was when they got a letter a few weeks ago stating that their mailboxes must be moved to the curb, and If they didn’t, their mail might be “withheld” and they would have to go to the post office to retrieve it.

The postmaster quickly backed up on that requirement, which still left the neighbors with numerous questions.

“Isn’t this all amazing,” said David Smeal, who lives in the affected neighborhood north of Imhoff Road in the vicinity of Pickard and Fairfield avenues.

Longtime residents include several who bought new homes in the development decades ago when these sprawling ranch-style homes were built in the neighborhood west of the University of Oklahoma.

The owners have been commiserating with each other, and perhaps getting better acquainted in the process.  They have tried — sometimes successfully — to reach postmaster Vaughan at 321-4256.

Residents alerted their city council member and their congressman, U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, in their efforts to stop the movement. A neighborhood meeting was in the offing but was called off when an apparent settlement was reached between the post office and the local carriers’ union.

The Norman controversy is occurring at a time when the post office nationwide is hurting financially, Vaughan said.

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