Snail's Pace: Mail Delivery Lags in South Burlington Neighborhood | Off Message

Snail's Pace: Mail Delivery Lags in South Burlington Neighborhood


The United States Postal Service carrier station on Pine Street. - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • The United States Postal Service carrier station on Pine Street.
Some days, the mail arrives in the 9 p.m. darkness at Pamela Hunt's house on Proctor Avenue in South Burlington. On some others, it arrives days late.

Important documents and checks have been lost or stuck in limbo. And Hunt says her efforts to get answers by contacting the U.S. Postal Service carrier station on Pine Street in Burlington have often been unproductive.

"I feel when you do call the post office, they don't seem to really care, and they don't seem to know what's going on, either," Hunt told Seven Days.

She's not alone. Hunt is among several people in the neighborhood just south of the Burlington line who have taken to Front Porch Forum to express frustration with erratic delivery.

"I've called Pine Street to complain and just get a song and dance. Something has to be done," another Proctor Avenue resident wrote on Front Porch Forum February 16.

Burlington postmaster Jason Salgo did not respond to messages from Seven Days. A woman at the counter of the Pine Street station said on Tuesday that Salgo was not in the office and that no one else could comment.

Steve Doherty, a Boston-based communications officer for the U.S. Postal Service whose territory includes Burlington, blamed short staffing for some of the problems.

"We’re currently bringing carriers from around the region into the Burlington office to maintain regular, reliable service to our South Burlington customers," Doherty wrote in an email. "Meanwhile, we are aggressively seeking applicants for an additional 13 City Carrier Assistant positions to bolster our local pool of resources."

The USPS will hold a job fair at its Essex Junction processing facility on March 21 and 22 in hopes of boosting the ranks, he added. Doherty said Salgo was too busy to talk to the media.

"Because our local management are focused full time on customer service and delivery matters, they will not be available for an interview," Doherty wrote.
A help wanted sign at the Pine Street facility's parking lot - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • A help wanted sign at the Pine Street facility's parking lot
In years past, staffing problems have contributed to complaints about delivery in other neighborhoods, including Burlington's South End.

The work schedule has grown to include evening and Sunday package delivery. To help customers track mail, the postal service offers "informed delivery": email notifications that contain digital images of letters and packages with a set arrival date.

But this service, too, can be unreliable, customers say.
Paul Engels, a South Burlington resident who lives on Orchard Road , has been notified to expect mail that "didn't show up" as promised, he told Seven Days.

"That's happened several times like that," he said. "It arrives the next day, maybe."

Still, Engels feels that service in the neighborhood has improved in the past few weeks. And along with other residents, he understands that delivery was impossible when a February 7 storm dropped more than 10 inches of snow.

But the problems seem to go deeper than snow drifts, Hunt said.

"If they are short staffed, it would be nice if our neighborhood wasn't the one that was suffering," she said.

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