You got mail, but not from Vail
The U.S. Postal Service, which operates a total of 11 post offices in Eagle County, has quietly centralized its mail sorting operation to Glenwood Springs in neighboring Garfield County.
Regardless of where a package gets mailed from in Eagle County, it arrives with a Glenwood Springs cancelation postmark over the stamp.
Abandoning local postmarks didn’t happen last week or last month, but almost three years ago, says Vail Postmaster Rick Medina, who isn’t surprised that local post office customers have neither noticed nor cared.
“Everyone just flips their bills in the slots,” he says, adding that unless local post office box holders send themselves mail, or mail gets returned to them the “streamlining of services” isn’t noticeable at all.
“Everything dropped in the mail gets routed through Glenwood Springs,” he explains. “That’s where the automated system is and it comes back to us in numerical order for delivery so we don’t have to do that here.”
Even in-town mail gets handled that way, Medina says. “It’s still a one-day turn-around, so there is no delay,” he says.
The centralization of mail, he says, isn’t just a phenomenon limited to Eagle County.
“It’s everywhere. It saves money and time. It is just streamlines the operation and makes it more efficient and takes the human error out of it,” he says. “Mail from Aspen goes to Glenwood. Everything over the hill goes to Denver, anything past Rifle goes to Grand Junction” he says.
Local post office customers and politicians have mixed opinions about the fact that a letter mailed from Vail arrives with a Glenwood Springs postmark.
“We should cream bloody murder,” says Vail Town Councilwoman Diana Donovan. “Who cares about Glenwood Springs, Vail mail should have a Vail stamp on it, it’s advertisement in a certain sense.”
Councilman Dick Cleveland says he would be willing to circulate a petition to request that local mail could once again be stamped locally.
Picking a fight with a federal agency isn’t beyond councilman Greg Moffet, who has been lobbying his council colleagues for years to go to war with the Federal Highway Commission and the Colorado Department of Transportation over noise issues on Interstate 70.
But fighting the U.S. Postal Service, he thinks, isn’t worth the while.
“It wouldn’t be the fight I would pick,” he says.
“I didn’t know this was going on and I think it is sort of sad,” says councilman Rod Slifer, “but I wouldn’t fall on my sword for it.”
“I didn’t know that they were doing that,” says Melissa Spear, an 11-year Vail Valley resident, who like many local business owners, has moved her land-planning business to Avon, but maintains a post office box in Vail for prestige reasons. As long as her letterhead displays a Vail address, she says, the postmark doesn’t matter to her.
According to Medina, Vail has 4,400 box customers and delivers mail to another 4,700 street addresses, meaning several thousand of Vail’s post office boxes contain mail for businesses located in Avon, Edwards or elsewhere in Eagle County.
“We service a lot of people who want to have a mail address in Vail, even if they aren’t in Vail,” Medina says.
“There is that mystique about a Vail address,” says Paul Golden, cradling a crate full of business correspondence in front of the Vail Post Office on Wednesday. Like Spear, Golden says he never noticed the absence of a Vail postmark on his business letters, written in an office in Edwards.
“I guess if it’s to save money, I’m OK with that,” he says.
Kelli Anthony of Minturn, too, can’t get upset about it.
“Considering the job (the post office) does, I think the price for a stamp is still pretty good,” she says. “I don’t care where my mail goes as long as it gets to people in time.”
For those who want a Vail or any other local cancelation stamp on their mail, there is always the post office window.
“If they want the Vail postmark, for things like gallery invitations or weddings or other special occasions, we tell our customers to bring their mail to us. We still do hand-cancelations for those who request it,” says Medina.
Scott Rapp, a past Vail resident who now lives in Salem, Ore. decided against the out-of-town slot for three postcards he had written during a brief stop-over in his old hometown Wednesday.
After overhearing the not-so-new news, he went back to the post office window.
“These are for people who also lived in Vail,” he said before sliding the three postcards across the counter. “They have to have a Vail stamp on them.”
Geraldine Haldner covers Vail, Minturn and Red Cliff. She can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 602, or at firstname.lastname@example.org