Want a PO box in Grand County? You might have to wait
February 14, 2019
When longtime Fraser Valley resident John Hartlauer moved to Granby late last year, he encountered an issue that many new transplants to the area face: a long wait list for a post office box in his town.
"I purchased a house in Granby, went down to the local post office to transfer mail service from Fraser to Granby," Hartlauer explained. "They put me on a waiting list."
Hartlauer said he applied for his box last year. After initially talking to Hartlauer in late January, when he was still waiting for his new PO box, Hartlauer was officially assigned to a box at the Granby Post Office earlier this week. It took roughly 60 days between his initial application for a new box and when he received it.
The problem that Hartlauer experienced is not unique to him nor the Granby Post Office.
While there are no wait times at post offices in Winter Park, Fraser or Kremmling, Tabernash residents also typically experience lengthy wait times to receive a box. New Grand Lake residents also sometimes encounter brief wait times before receiving post office boxes, though not always.
Local resident Billie Jean Andrade moved to Granby last March and immediately sought a post office box for herself at the Granby Post Office. After waiting more than a month, but still having received no box assignment, Andrade chose to withdraw her application and instead now receives her mail at the post office box of her children, who also reside in Granby.
"We tried to get it right away," Andrade said. "But about a month later, I gave up."
The underlying issues that create the lengthy wait times for box assignments in many Grand County communities are systemic and involve multiple factors, including the number of available boxes and influxes of seasonal workers and residents.
"Delays in obtaining a post office box are impacted by supply and demand," explained Marcela Rivera, spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service. "A wait list can occur in any area where there is greater demand than supply, much like any other business or service. Larger cities that experience rapid growth may also experience a wait list for PO boxes."
Rivera said the U.S. Postal Service does not compile data on average wait times for customers on PO Box waiting lists and was unable to comment on that particular subject.
According to Rivera, the Granby Post Office is exploring the possibility of increasing the total number of boxes by reissuing abandoned boxes and through an expansion of the existing post office box section.
"If there is overwhelming demand, management may conduct a review to consider acquiring additional boxes if the building space allows," Rivera stated.
If experiencing lengthy wait times for a box, however, local residents can still receive their mail at the post office through general delivery. It is intended primarily as a temporary means of delivery when boxes are unavailable, according to Rivera. Customers may go to the post office during operating hours, present a valid ID and obtain their mail. Senders would simply write "general delivery" in spot of a post office box number, along with the city and zip code, on an envelope or parcel.
Issues about post office box wait times are also lingering in the minds of Granby town officials.
With several new housing developments in the works, including the already approved Smith Creek Crossing development, town officials are expecting a steady influx of new residents over the next few years.
Granby Mayor Paul Chavoustie said he personally expects the town to grow by roughly 75 new residents each year for the next several years.
"We are very concerned, as is everyone, about the lack of post office boxes," Chavoustie said. "So far, we have written two letters to the postmaster general in Denver but have not had any response yet."
Chavoustie praised the efforts of Granby's Postal Service workers and said he felt they were not receiving the necessary support from the larger U.S. Postal Service.
"Our local people are doing a great job, but they are overburdened and don't have the capacity," he said. "They are not getting the support they deserve."
The town of Granby, however, has no formal authority over the operations of the Granby Post Office and could only make requests. Chavoustie said the town has also written a letter to Amazon.com, Inc. asking them to transition back to home delivery service in Granby, as opposed to delivery and pickup at the Granby Post Office.
"We are requesting they return to home delivery as they were doing in the past," Chavoustie said. "Sometimes they have 150 to 200 Amazon boxes a day coming into the Granby Post Office."
According to Chavoustie, Amazon has previously received and approved similar requests from small communities whose postal service became overburdened by Amazon deliveries.
"A lot of things that look like problems can actually be opportunities," Chavoustie said. "I think there is a really big opportunity for somebody to do something like Mail Boxes Etc. here."