Avon considers cluster boxes | VailDaily.com

Avon considers cluster boxes

Nicole Frey

AVON – Alisa Wohlfarth stood at a counter in the Avon Post Office sorting her pertinent mail from the junk. Flyers from Pizza Hut and credit card applications went in one pile while bills went into another. For Wohlfarth, as for many Avon residents, a trip to the post office is part of the daily grind. Wohlfarth slips in her trip on the way home from the gym. But the way Avon residents get their mail may change. The Avon Town Council is once again considering moving away from post office boxes to cluster boxes groups of mailboxes strategically placed in neighborhoods. “This is a topic that surfaces every few years,” said Avon spokeswoman Jacquie Halburnt. “Council receives complaints every few years regarding lack of service.”

Cluster boxes would allow Avon residents to receive mail closer to home without having to go all the way to the post office. There would be a couple of larger mailboxes for packages and a slot for outgoing mail. Residents living within a quarter mile of the post office would not receive cluster boxes unless they were on an existing service line.Councilwoman Amy Phillips like the idea, saying cluster boxes would eliminate the confusion of having a physical address and a mailing address. “One address is just easier than two,” she said. Avon resident Nina Stephens said cluster boxes would alleviate the traffic from people going to the post office, but others were more wary of making the move to cluster boxes.Drew Dodd, president of the Sunridge apartments homeowners association, said residents might be amenable to cluster boxes as long as they don’t get stuck maintaining them. Hearing concerns that cluster boxes will leave the Avon Post Office full of empty post office boxes, Mayor Ron Wolfe explained the post office would have been expanded when new developments, like Riverfront Village, came into Avon, and cluster boxes mean the expansion might be avoided.

Donald O’Dell took his demands a step further than Dodd, saying unless the post office starts true home delivery to the end of his driveway he’s not interested. And he’s not the only one. “Why don’t we have home delivery door to door like most everywhere else in the nation?” said Gary Feldman, an Avon resident of 20 years. “Why does the federal postal service discriminate against us?”But Halburnt said cluster boxes were as close to home delivery as Avon would get.”The post office said no way in heck are they ever going to get to home delivery,” she said. Sandra Medrano, spokeswoman for the United States Post Office based in Denver, said home delivery was out of the question, but could say why. Other representatives from the United States Post Office and Avon Post Office did not return calls. But Feldman doesn’t see cluster boxes as an improvement from the current situation. “If I have to go to a cluster box, I’d just as soon go to the post office,” Feldman said. After pondering the clustered prospect, Feldman eventually decided cluster boxes might be better than nothing, but he still wasn’t convinced home delivery was out of the question.

Whether or not cluster boxes sound like a good way of getting mail might be beside the point. “Do cluster boxes really solve the real problem?” said Councilwoman Debbie Buckley.The Avon Post Office, said to be understaffed, is notorious for giving mail to the wrong people and being slow. “It’s taken a while to get my stuff at least half and hour, but I waited two hours one time,” Wohlfarth said.And when she finally makes it to the counter, Wohlfarth said she rarely gets a warm reception. Avon resident Dominic Mauriello said he thinks cluster boxes would make a world of difference. “It’s just so frustrating – traffic-wise, time-wise – to work with the Avon Post Office. It’s just so inefficient,” he said, adding cluster boxes would save him time and money. “I can’t think of anything more American than having your mail delivered to your home.”What’s nextStill just at the beginning stages of discussing cluster boxes, council members debated if they want to decide on the issue themselves or pass it on to voters. “There needs to be a decision made one way or another,” Stephens said.Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or nfrey@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado

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