The U.S. Postal Service says everyone should have free mail delivery, and in Union Bridge, that could mean erecting mailboxes along a stretch of Main Street.
Town officials, however, contend that mailboxes along the street would be impractical, dangerous and unattractive.
The prospect of mailboxes crowding narrow sidewalks and postal vehicles causing traffic detours has the Town Council considering an ordinance to bar mailboxes on Main Street.
"It would be almost impossible to have mailboxes on Main Street," said Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr. "It's not a question of whether [residents] would prefer them or not. There's just no place for them."
Jones is trying to schedule a meeting between town representatives and Postal Service officials.
The possibility of mailboxes being placed on Main Street was prompted by an announcement last month by Postmaster General Marvin Runyon: Rural residents who live within a quarter-mile of a post office are eligible for free post office boxes if a mail carrier does not pass their houses.
However, a mail carrier passes houses along Main Street, making them eligible for mailbox delivery.
"They didn't think about this situation. Or maybe they did, I don't know," said Union Bridge Postmaster David M. Schultz. "This is a rural town. We don't have city delivery. We don't have people going up and down the street with mailbags."
Postal Service policy is to provide every U.S. resident with free mail delivery.
Schultz said the solution may be to provide free post office boxes to affected residents, those who live along Main Street from Route 75 south to the edge of town.
Those residents get their mail at the post office, by daily pickup at the counter or by renting a box at $12 a year.
Councilwoman Kathleen D. Kreimer, who has been working with business owners on a Union Bridge revitalization effort, also opposes mailboxes.
"I think it's really going to be dangerous for a mail carrier to stop and have cars have to go around," Kreimer said.
A row of mailboxes on the east side would detract from Main Street's appearance, she said.
Mailboxes cannot be placed on the west side of the street because of parking meters.
Schultz said the availability of free post office boxes would solve the issue, from the Postal Service's perspective.
"Now it's in their court," he said.
Pub Date: 5/07/98