The struggle by Red Lodge, Mont., that kept alive a downtown post office may be duplicated 150 miles away in Livingston, population 7,500. Recently, 1,500 Livingston residents signed a petition calling on Postal Service officials to forego a move to spacious new quarters and retain the 84-year-old post office in the heart of town.
"It's really the
lynchpin of our downtown area," said Livingston businessman John
Fryer in the Billings Gazette. The petition drive, spearheaded by
two city council members and a downtown business owner, prompted
the local chamber of commerce to poll its 350 members. The result:
A majority preferred that the post office stay put, and now the
chamber has started to enlist support from local and state
Postmaster Earline Oset says something needs to give. "Growth is
constant and steady," she says, "and we're just cramped for space
here." Oset says buildings downtown are being rapidly transformed
into apartments and offices, while development outside of town is
more likely to be mobile home parks and big subdivisions. Oset says
a poll taken at the post office found that 80 percent of people
drive to pick up their mail.
Several dozen towns
in Montana have new post offices either in the planning stage or
"If we don't have 20
building projects going on, we're falling behind - because of
growth or building deterioration," says Lynden Sears, manager of
field maintenance for Montana's Postal Service.
* Betsy Marston