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Main Cottage Grove post office to be closed; services would shift to second facility

Garry Mattox of the U.S. Postal Service outlines the mail service's plan to close its main Cottage Grove post office and shift operations to its second building in town, an annex on 95th Street west of Highway 61. Mattox was speaking to the Cottage Grove City Council Wednesday. Bulletin photo by Scott Wente

The U.S. Postal Service plans to close its main Cottage Grove post office and shift all operations to its second facility in town.

The plan likely means that within several months customers will no longer be able to use the post office at 7130 East Point Douglas Road. Instead, the postal service will only operate out of its annex at 7523 95th St., about three miles away on the west side of Highway 61.

All customer service operations will move to the annex, including the 332 post office boxes currently rented at the main post office.

Postal service officials said closing one of its Cottage Grove buildings is a reflection of cost-cutting move occurring nationwide as the mail service's revenue and usage drop. The postal service lost $8.5 billion last year.

In Cottage Grove alone, postal service revenue dropped 12 percent from 2008 to 2010, and sales are down 6 percent so far this year, said Garry Mattox, of the Postal Service's western facility service office. Mattox briefed the Cottage Grove City Council on the postal service's plans Wednesday.

"We need to adjust our infrastructure to meet the declining mail volumes," Mattox said. "We can't afford to maintain both (facilities)."

A 60-day period for public input on the change started Wednesday, but postal service officials acknowledged they are moving forward with the consolidation plan. The transition is expected to take several months, in part because the annex must be renovated to include a customer service window.

Available space was a primary factor in planning to close the main post office, rather than moving all operations there and closing the annex, officials said.

The postal service admitted the change will be difficult for customers accustomed to using the main post office just off 80th Street.

"People get used to doing things in a certain way and we know we're asking them to change and that's not always easy," said postal service spokesman Pete Nowacki. "We're trying to expand access to our goods and services in other ways, too."

For instance, Nowacki said, people can purchase stamps at 10 locations within 5 miles of the main Cottage Grove post office. They include grocery stores and ATM machines.

Cottage Grove is not alone in experiencing post office consolidation. The postal service also plans to close a downtown Northfield, Minn., post office and shift operations to another facility in Northfield. That plan has drawn strong objections from the community and led to petition efforts to save the downtown location.

See the upcoming print edition of the Bulletin for more details on the postal service plan.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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