Granville post office closing, piece of community is lost

GRANVILLE — After the close of business hours this Friday, post office box users in the town of Granville will have to go elsewhere to pick up their mail.
Since 1963, the U.S. Postal Service has leased one room in a Route 100 home next to the general store to serve as the post office; it hosts 50 P.O. boxes used by Granville residents. Citing health issues, landlords Alice “Pete” and William Parrish made an emergency suspension of the lease late last month, forcing the post office to vacate. 
Granville residents were notified of the impending closure in a letter postmarked Jan. 5.
For a town with a population of only around 300, the closure of the post office means that finding places and occasions for the community to gather is getting more difficult, said Granville selectboard chair Cheryl Sargeant, noting the closure of the school and library and relocation of the church in the last several years.
“You kind of lose your sense of community,” she said. “The only other thing where we can gather and chit chat is on garbage day and on Town Meeting Day. Everybody is going to have to work on their own. It’s an unfortunate thing but we understand why.”
The Granville location was classified by the Postal Service as a Remotely Managed Post Office, which maintains limited hours per week. Starting Jan. 23, post office boxes will be transferred to the Hancock Post Office, located five miles south on Route 100. Residents can also request to set up rural delivery.
“We’re making them available so that they won’t have to do anything but go to Hancock and pick up their new keys,” said Ted Carty, postmaster for the towns of Rochester, Granville and Hancock. “I’m trying to make it as easy as possible for everyone.”
The Postal Service has experience locating new sites to house P.O. boxes or devising other solutions for residents to get their mail when they lose access to rented space.
Postal Service spokesman Steve Doherty said a popular alternative to a brick-and-mortar office is to establish what the Postal Service calls a “Village Post Office,” where an existing business installs post office boxes and sells postal products over the counter. These services have been used in hardware stores, general stores and other locations all over the Northeast, he said.
“In a smaller community that’s always something to consider if they can’t find a suitable postal presence,” Doherty said.
Sargeant said the closure of the post office posed a problem regarding mail directed to the municipality. The selectboard will have to decide where it will have town mail sent, she said.
“With the town office open only four days a week, we need to know where the mail is going to be,” she said. “It’s not fair to ask the town clerk to travel miles down the road to pick up her mail from another post office when it might be handier to have it delivered.”
Sargeant also said some Granville residents may choose to have their mail delivered north of town in Warren or Waitsfield, where more people work.
Some people would have appreciated some more advanced notice, Sargeant added. 
“It doesn’t give you a whole lot of time to make changes and notify your bank and relatives,” she said.
Jim Parrish, son of Alice and William, remembers growing up in the house where the post office was also located. He was 11 when the post office moved in with them. 
“It was pretty much just a normal way of life for me,” he recalled. “I couldn’t remember anything different from having the post office in the house.”
Both of his parents are now 86 and Parrish will work with friends to convert the downstairs space into a bedroom and bath for his parents.
“That’s why we needed the space back,” he said. “Going up and down the stairs is no longer an option.”

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