There's no place like home.
Elkridge residents have been trying to convince the U.S. Postal Service of that for three years now. They say they are fed up with driving to Halethorpe in Baltimore County for their mail service.
"We don't like the crowding and long lines. People already resent traveling all that way," said Elkridge resident Cordelia Hanson during a meeting last week with Halethorpe post office officials.
"Halethorpe is five miles from the county line and 12 miles from Route 175. That's not convenient," she said.
The Elkridge Community Association recently stepped up its campaign to prove the area worthy of its own post office and ZIP code when it mailed U.S. Postal Service officials a packet including growth figures, signed petitions and letters from business leaders.
The postal service hasn't responded, Hanson said.
"Every community wants its own post office," said Helen Skillman, spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service's Baltimore district that encompasses Elkridge. "We will build one and pay for it when we outgrow a current facility or a community's growth warrants it. We know when we need a new one."
In the meantime, residents are making do with the Halethorpe post office, which is trying to appease its Elkridge customers.
Postal managers met with area leaders -- from the community association, heritage society, community newspaper, schools and churches -- Wednesday as part of a quarterly Postal Advisory Council (PAC) meeting.
Many complaints involved the inconvenience of not having a community-wide ZIP code. Most residents share the 21227 ZIP code with parts of Baltimore and Baltimore County, while others have the same ZIP codes as residents of Columbia, Ellicott City, Jessup and Hanover.
Resident Edward Huber Jr. presented Edward L. Kearney, customer service manager of the Halethorpe post office since February, with a letter he received more than a week after it was mailed because the postal carrier was confused by the Baltimore City ZIP code and Howard County address.
"We're going to have problems with mis-deliveries. It's going to happen," Kearney said of his post office where 90,000 pieces of mail are handled each day. "But we're a service-oriented business. We do our best to give you the best service."
He told the half-dozen residents in attendance that the Halethorpe post office has expanded its parking lot, is working on installing a stamp vending machine in the lobby, and is trying to quicken service to customers.
The residents were impressed, but not sidetracked from their goal of getting their own post office.
Through the years, residents said, the U.S. Postal Service has given them a myriad of reasons why Elkridge is serviced from Halethorpe, such as the area isn't growing fast enough.
According to the 1990 U.S. Census, more than 12,976 people live in Elkridge.
But new residents continue to flow into the Elkridge area, roughly defined by Interstate 95 to the west, the old Baltimore & Ohio rail line to the east, Route 100 to the south and the Howard-Baltimore county line to the north.
Residential growth is expected to continue throughout the remainder of the decade. That is the area's strongest case for its own ZIP code and post office, residents say. And they don't want to have to plead for another three years.
Said Pastor John Steiner of Trinity Episcopal Church: "As soon as I moved to Elkridge, I signed a petition for our own post office. We still don't have one."
Pub Date: 9/16/96