U.S. Postal Service to close Brownsville Post Office; postmaster retires
A sign posted on the front door of the Brownsville Post Office notifies customers that the facility is closing July 31. (By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer / July 28, 2012)
That will change on Tuesday.
U.S. Postal Service officials recently announced that they plan to reduce the village’s postmaster position to two hours per day and discontinue the government benefits that go with it.
Younkins said that left her with no other choice.
“It was my decision to leave,” the 60-year-old Younkins said. “I’m just fortunate that I’m old enough and have enough years to retire. I wish there was someone I could pass it on to and continue it in this way.”
Younkins said Brownsville, population about 89, doesn’t have a building designated to serve exclusively as a post office. As a result, the Postal Service leased space in her home and hired her to run the operation.
She said she believed that nobody has stepped forward to take over because they would have to open their home for use as a post office for little money and no benefits.
“No one is waiting in the wings to give it space and work it without fail,” she said.
George Maffett, a U.S. Postal Service spokesman, said in an email that the Postal Service leased the space from Younkins for a little more than $1,200 per year to serve about 50 customers.
He said the residents were notified of the “emergency suspension” through letters and signs at the post office.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this emergency suspension is causing for our Brownsville customers,” Maffett said in the email. “Emergency suspensions by their very nature occur with little notice. The Brownsville Post Office is located in the home of the current postmaster. The postmaster notified us of her intent to retire and requested that the lease be suspended to coincide with her retirement on July 31. As a result, we must suspend services at that location.”
Maffett said that an emergency suspension does not mean that the post office will close permanently.
“The emergency suspension allows us time to find an alternate site or explore opening a Village Post Office (VPO),” he said. “Village Post Offices are operated by community businesses to provide selected postal products and services, including Forever stamps and Priority Mail flat rate packages and envelopes. These retail units may also provide post office boxes either inside or outside the business.”
Since 1824, Brownsville has had a post office in a number of different locations, according to a publication titled “Window to Brownsville.”
Some of the residents said they’ve grown accustomed to the small-town charm of their village post office.
They enter into the foyer of Younkins’ home at 2439 Boteler Road, walk up to a teller window with thin, wooden bars and get their mail. Much of the time, Younkins sees them coming from the front window and has their mail ready to go.
“It’s kind of sad to see it all go,” Brownsville resident Steve Specht said. “After 188 years of having a post office in Brownsville, why now?”
On Thursday, workers contracted by the Postal Service were several houses down from the post office in Specht’s front yard pouring a cement footer for “cluster boxes,” or a group of mailboxes where mail will be delivered to Brownsville residents after July 31.
Residents who live on the outskirts of the village won’t be so lucky.