WALDPORT — Owners of seven residences on North Bayview Loop Road are growing increasingly frustrated with a recent decision that could soon disrupt their U.S. Postal Service mail delivery.
Residents living in these homes on the windy, gravel road, an approximate 4 1/2 to 5-mile drive from the Waldport Post Office, recently received letters from Waldport Postmaster Peter Roina, notifying them that their portion of North Bayview Loop has been deemed unsafe for travel by the post office’s contracted mail carriers.
Therefore, the post office, in its letter to the seven homeowners, set a May 4 deadline for all of them to move their mailbox to a designated “safer” location on the road, lease a box at the Waldport or another area post office, or face suspension entirely of their mail delivery. In follow-up emails with the potentially affected North Bayview Loop residents, Roina extended that May 4 deadline by one week and suggested residents combine to purchase what are known as lockable “cluster box units” in a central location he set, rather than individual mailboxes.
However, those area homeowners, most of whom have lived in their current residences for upwards of 40 years, don’t see the safety issue, and several reached out to the News-Times to say Roina has been less than communicative with those who may see changes to their mail delivery.
“I’ll put it to you this way, I feel like we’ve been ‘swiped left’ by the postmaster,” North Bayview Loop resident of nearly 22 years, Paul Joannides, told the News-Times earlier this week. “We’ve got a postmaster who isn’t particularly good at communicating. Over the years, I’ve spent more than $20,000 for my business on postage with the U.S. Post Office, and it’s more than a little annoying to be treated like an inconvenience.”
Roina, who spoke briefly with the News-Times this week before directing further questions to personnel higher up in the USPS chain of command, said he understood the frustrations of residents with the post office’s decision, but that ultimately he’s responsible for ensuring the safety of his mail carriers.
He said after receiving a complaint from a mail carrier about potential dangers on that specific portion of North Bayview Loop, a safety inspector joined the carrier on the route for a ride-along and agreed that road was unsafe for mail carrier travel.
“This decision was made 100 percent based on safety,” Roina said. He added that this might be just the first in a series of similar notices to those living on that particular mail carrier delivery route.
“We’ve got about 30 to 40 other locations just on that route that we’ve identified as unsafe,” Roina said.
Joannides disputes that assessment and says there’s currently less traffic on North Bayview Loop than in years’ past, as longtime area residents aren’t driving as much as they’ve aged into senior citizenship, and he wonders why now the road is considered unsafe for mail delivery.
One North Bayview resident sent the News-Times email communications they had with Lincoln County Public Works Director Roy Kinion, who said he disagreed with the post office’s assessment of the road’s hazards, but his hands were tied.
“Lincoln County Road Department currently maintains miles of single lane, rock roads exactly like Bayview Loop and some of them do have mail service,” Kinion wrote in the email. “I don’t have the authority to override the decisions made by the USPS.”
Toni Johnson, married to Joannides, outlined her issues with the decision to cease mail delivery to the homes on North Bayview. In particular, she said she was concerned about her senior citizen neighbors, many of whom receive prescription medication in the mail and can’t always make the trek to town to receive mail.
“My biggest concern is about the seniors here,” she said Monday afternoon. “A lot of them get their medications by mail, and he (Roina) wants to move their mailboxes? None of these people are young, and I understand if it’s some huge safety issue, but Roina hasn’t even asked or agreed to meet with us to discuss alternative solutions.”
The next day (May 4), Roina did meet with one of the affected residents, and he agreed to a different location for the cluster of mailboxes proposed by the postal customers. However, he advised that residents will be required to pay for new mailboxes in the agreed upon area, the post to support the cluster of boxes, and also pay the cost of applying gravel to a turnout area so the carrier can safely turnaround after picking up and delivering mail.
That did little to satisfy Johnson.
“Six of the seven impacted neighbors are senior citizens,” Johnson wrote in an email Tuesday. “Several of them are on a fixed income. How are they going to afford a locked mailbox, much less the gravel?
“Additionally, the postmaster has made no effort to provide any of the documents I requested. None of us have seen the initial complaint or the safety report USPS performed. He also refuses to provide the contact information for his supervisor. “
No matter the final outcome, Joannides views the entire situation as one that stems from a subpar level of customer service put forth by a government-funded entity.
“I think that anyone who owns a business knows you don’t treat your customers this way, but I guess if you have the government constantly bailing you out, you can ignore your customers,” he said.