BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Blue mailboxes are disappearing from street corners all over the country, and the Buffalo Common Council wants to know why they're being removed in large numbers from the city's east side.
Though it may feel like the mailboxes are being ripped out by random, News 4 has learned the Postal Service has a very methodical way of identifying which mailboxes stay, and which ones go.
RELATED | The Common Council passed a resolution requesting the Postal Service to provide information about the removal of mailboxes from the east side, including which have been removed, which are slated to be removed, and where mailboxes remain
On Clinton Street, a blue mailbox has always been present outside Bruce Beyer's home. But last June, a sign appeared. Then this past Saturday, a postal worker came and took the box away.
Now Beyer says the closest mailbox is more than a mile away, at the main post office on William Street.
"I would guess that 20 percent of the people in this neighborhood, maybe a little more, don't own automobiles, don't drive. And it's not a neighborhood where you can leave your mail in the box and have the postman pick it up for you. Because if you leave, like Netflix for example, somebody's going to steal it," Beyer said.
The mailboxes are a casualty of more people sending e-mails, paying bills and receiving statements online.
In 1985, there were more than 400,000 of them nationwide. Today, there are fewer than 160,000.
Postal Service spokesperson Karen Mazurkiewicz said, "We're trying to right-size our operations, and that's what collection box removal is about."
"We don't just arbitrarily pull boxes. We do something called density studies."
It works like this: the post office monitors a box for a period of time, usually several weeks. Boxes where at least 25 pieces of mail are dropped every day, stay put.
"If it doesn't, then we tag it for removal, but we give 30 days to those customers to tell us why it should remain. And then we consider that," Mazurkiewicz said.
But Beyer doesn't feel like Buffalo's east side is being considered. He'd like to see his neighborhood mailbox, back.
"The postman parks his truck right where you're standing, which is two steps to the mailbox," Beyer said. "I don't see the cost savings there."
In another sign of the times, the Cayuga branch post office near the Buffalo Airport is cutting its retail hours. Starting Saturday, it'll be open from 12:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.
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