We started the meeting with a follow-up report about the Freedom of Information Act request about our council. The USPS provided the meeting minutes of all of our meetings but redacted all member’s names. The USPS also declined the person the right to attend one of our meetings since meetings are only open to current council members.
The next order of business was a discussion about the mobile Post Office visiting the Oak Park Farmers Market. The Postmaster determined that July 25 was too close for him, so he decided to push things back to August 1. Again, this was disappointing since we’ve been talking about the farmers market for months. I wondered if it would actually happen. Since the meeting, I’ve received confirmation that the mobile Post Office will be at the Oak Park Farmers Market on August 1! I am hoping to get more details (timing, whether or not there will be a special postmark, services) and I will share more information then.
We moved onto the big topic of the meeting–planning for the 80th Anniversary celebration. It will be held on Saturday, August 29 from 10am-2pm. We discussed contacting the historical society to see if someone there could create and host tours of the building that day and to see if they had more old pictures of the building through the years. Two members had already reached out to the local newspapers, but more media attention was planned. Council members volunteered to attend and help with refreshments and greeting people on the day of the event. The post office decided, in spite of our offers to help, most of the planning would be done by the post office. (Honestly…this makes me a little bit nervous. Considering how poorly the planning of the other two (smaller) events has gone, I hope they get on the ball and create a really great celebration.)
We got more updates about the facilities issues at the River Forest Post Office.
- An order was put in for repaving and striping the lot to make the handicap spaces more clear.
- There is also funding approved for a new roof for the building in 2016.
- Funding has been approved for more maintenance staff in the Oak Park post offices, which will benefit River Forest since they share.
- As far as the Oak Park Post Office is concerned, the building’s exterior (the bricks and the brass) will be professionally cleaned thanks to private donations. (For those of you who have no idea what the post office looks like, I promise to have pictures soon…it’s really a beautiful building!)
Nationally, a lot of changes happened in the past few weeks. Apparently the new Postmaster General has made some personnel changes and cuts at the top. The USPS is trying to save money on management to relieve money and resources for delivery and sales. Sadly, some people lost their jobs or got moved around, but the postal employees at our meeting seemed to feel this was a step in the right direction to improve operations in the long run. Customers will benefit from the changes and improvements and hopefully that will increase sales in the future.
New delivery vehicles are coming soon. The vehicles will be tall enough for mail carriers to stand up inside and there will be a skylight so carriers can see the mail and parcels better. All of these changes are driven by the huge increase in package delivery, the future of the USPS.
A USPS marketing manager was scheduled to visit the Oak Park Post Office on Friday (July 17) to observe the service counter and to look at the post office from the customer’s eyes. This conversation brought up a suggestion that signage at the post office is sometimes lacking. For instance, it’s difficult to know (unless you do it all the time) what forms you need to fill out for each service you need. The signage is not helpful. The USPS app is not really helpful. And we reiterated our frustration that the cost of a first class stamp is very difficult to find anywhere on the USPS website.
Last month, all USPS employees attended a “Deliver the Brand” training. There is a huge focus on customer service right now. I would love to hear from you whether or not you have noticed a change in your local post office.