Is it time to start talking about home mail delivery?

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – This is the time of year postal employees dread. Packages start piling up in the back room and yellow notices have them seeing red.

For starters, many package addresses do not include a post office box. This may be due to several reasons but it usually amounts to a couple. New residents to Jackson Hole may not be aware that there is no home delivery in Teton County. Not for most residents, anyway. So it never occurs to them to put their post office box number on a package delivery or even have a post office box.

Usually, though, the reason so many packages pile up at the post office and eventually get returned to sender is the recipient does not think to include the PO Box because an item was to be shipped UPS or Fed Ex. The problem begins when “last-mile delivery” kicks in.

Sign in the Post Office.

Last-mile delivery is a logistics puzzle involving major shippers arranging with USPS to hand off delivery to a local post office rather than bring a package right to the doorstep. Consumers never know when or if this will take place and often get caught omitting a PO Box when they could have provided one.

The 83002 and 83001 post offices in town are understaffed and often do not have the time or even ability to cross-reference packages with names and physical addresses. Some two dozens signs in one local post office remind residents that without a PO Box on their shipment, the package will be returned to sender.

The Post Office recommends always including a Post Office Box number on a package, even when it is scheduled for delivery by a private shipper like UPS or Fed Ex. When online ordering software will not accept a PO Box, the Post Office suggests simply dropping the words “PO Box” and just putting in your box number after your name or in the secondary address line that typically calls for an apartment number.

Please, Mr. Postman

The package delivery headaches begin with the fact that Jackson, Wyoming is one of those rare places in the United States with no home delivery. Davidson, NC and Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA are two other places that come to mind where USPS does not deliver mail to home residences. Despite the best efforts of Postmaster General John Wanamaker, who served from 1889 to 1893, to spearhead RFD (Rural Free Delivery) ensuring even bumpkins in the middle of nowhere could get their mail, there still exists a few of these smaller communities where no mailman treads even today.

In Jackson, the reason most often cited for the town having no mail delivery is a collective desire to encourage community building by embracing the social aspects of having to meet at the post office every few days. The forced interaction was viewed as a positive thing. There is also the argument that harsh winter weather makes mail delivery impractical in Jackson.

But are these arguments still valid?

Jackson resident Patrick J. Starich asked the town council to reexamine home delivery of mail in an email addressed to town leaders. They will. Tonight at 6pm.

He wrote:

“While the Town of Jackson has apparently never had home delivery, our community has grown to the point where it now seems appropriate for the following reasons:

  • Since this issue was last considered by the Town Council in 1979 the population of Jackson has more than doubled, making the existing model for mail increasingly onerous for both residents and USPS staff
  • Local post office staff and facilities are often overwhelmed by the number of local customers who arrive daily for parcel pick-up throughout the year, but especially during the month of December
  • The ‘carbon footprint’ of thousands of vehicles driving to the local post offices multiple times each week to pick up regular mail could be significantly reduced by having the USPS employ 10-12 delivery vehicles and personnel to deliver mail
  • Vehicular traffic on Maple Way and Pearl Avenue could be significantly reduced
  • The often confusing address nomenclature involving the addition of a box number to a local postal address would be eliminated
  • Residents would benefit by not spending countless hours standing in line during the year to retrieve parcels and special mail

Is it time to reconsider home delivery, or is it still a pleasant experience encountering our friends and neighbors at the post office?

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