Rep. Roscoe Bartlett yesterday told Dayton residents what they wanted to hear -- the U.S. Postal Service had decided not to close their tiny post office.
Since June 1991, when the last postmaster was transferred to Glenelg, residents worried about losing the red-and-blue-striped white building on Ten Oaks Road.
A recent letter-writing campaign sparked the interest of Mr. Bartlett, a 6th District Republican, and helped speed up the service's review of the facility.
Although he thought his involvement merely "tilted the process," Mr. Bartlett held a news conference outside the post office yesterday morning, complete with doughnuts and coffee paid for by Dayton residents.
"Post offices kind of tie the community together," he said as he mingled with the crowd of about 30. "The sense of community is important, especially at a time when so many people commute and hardly know their next-door neighbor."
Mr. Bartlett's inquiries and letters from Dayton residents were not, ultimately, what prompted the decision to keep the post office open, said Richard W. Rudez, Baltimore district manager for customer services.
"We might not have looked at it in a while if he had not expressed interest," Mr. Rudez said. "But as far as influencing the final decision, no, there was no pressure put on us as far as following the normal procedures."
The decision was the result of a two-week survey of business done by the Dayton facility, which serves about 500 homes in the 21036 ZIP code. It included a look at the number of transactions made, customers served and amount of money taken in. The survey also compared the results to business of the last several years.
"It showed that the revenue and the volume in the years that we compared it showed a steady increase," Mr. Rudez said. The evaluation also took into account the community interest in keeping the post office open.
Had the two-week review shown poor business, Mr. Rudez said, "we would have moved to the next step of the closing procedure, which would have been a town meeting."
Making her daily trip to the post office for her husband's business, Mary Weisman of the Kalmia Farms subdivision was happy to hear the news.
"I think it's really great that they are going to keep it and that the citizens got what they wanted," she said. "I'm going to see some friends, and I can't wait to tell them about it."
Ms. Weisman was one of hundreds of residents, many of them from her neighborhood, who signed a petition urging the Postal Service to keep the post office open.
Many Dayton residents said they were happy with the service that the two-person operation gives them.
"I hate to go up to Clarksville, because I hate to wait in line," Ms. Weisman said.
Dayton residents first learned that the post office might close from its last postmaster, Mary Lee Barnes, before she was transferred almost two years ago.
Dayton's older residents believe that there has been a post office serving the community since the late 1800s. For many years, it was in a store that is now the brown house next to the current post office building, which is believed to have been built in the early 1960s.
Chick Gibson, who has lived in Dayton for 35 years, also wrote letters to Maryland's two U.S. senators and helped provide refreshments for yesterday's gathering.
"It's very gratifying to me, indeed, that the powers that be have listened to us," he said.