Fairway officially disapproves.
With a unanimous vote Monday, the Fairway City Council passed a resolution opposing the installation of permanent cluster mailboxes “until after the City and its residents are afforded an opportunity to discuss this situation with the USPS to ultimately find a solution that is agreeable to all parties.”
The move comes in response to a meeting Mayor Jerry Wiley had with Postmaster Russell Jacobson in which Jacobson gave the city until June 18 to “formally respond” to the Postal Service’s decision to install four cluster mailboxes in the Reinhardt Estates subdivision without giving the city or residents prior notice.
“We recognize that we have responsibility to the safety of mail carriers,” Wiley told the audience at Monday’s City Council meeting, “but it seems disingenuous to me to have a policy where 32 people are adversely impacted by a situation in which only a couple of clients were involved. I don’t see the decision making process working in that particular instance.”
Prior to the vote, Councilor Tony Liu, who represents the impacted neighborhood, read a letter from the homeowners whose dogs allegedly threatened a letter carrier on May 23 prompting the cluster box installation. In the letter, David and Krissie Wiggins offered to take several steps — including keeping their dogs inside, building a traditional fence, getting a PO box and getting a curbside mailbox — to alleviate the trouble without forcing their neighbors to move to cluster box distribution. The response they received, said Liu, was essentially, “Too late.”
No one from the Postal Service attended as a formal representative, but Diana Bartlett, the letter carrier who had served the neighborhood for years before the cluster boxes were installed, was at the meeting. Bartlett moved to a different letter route in early May, and told the council she heard the new carrier had simply “seen a dog sleeping in the front yard” of a house on May 23, and called the district office to “ask what to do.”
“I never had a problem with the dogs on that route,” Bartlett said.
Wiley told the dozens of homeowners who attended that the council hoped the resolution would provide some legal footing for securing an opportunity to discuss the issue with the Postal Service before the boxes are made permanent, and that the city was continuing to work with the offices of Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran as well as Rep. Kevin Yoder. But, said several of the city councilors, it appears to many in Fairway that it’s just a matter of time before every neighborhood will be moved to cluster box distribution.
“I find the surly attitude of the Postal Service really reprehensible,” said Councilor Ky Weekley. “But people in my ward are starting to talk about where they would want their cluster box placed. It seems inevitable.”