CHARLOTTESVILLE — Last Saturday, Becky Hancock headed down to the Charlottesville post office to pick up her mail but shopped short of her goal.
A letter, taped to the front door of the white building at 10372 E. U.S. 40, announced the facility was closed until further notice because of “unsafe conditions of the facility, including rodents and no installed heating or air.”
The postal service and owner of the building are at odds over who should foot the bill to bring the building up to standard, and there is no estimated date for the office to reopen. Meanwhile, customers are directed to pick up their mail at the Knightstown post office about five miles away, which some residents with limited mobility or transportation say is a burden.
Hancock, who lives within walking distance of the post office, said customers have been frustrated with the lack of answers about what’s coming next for their small-town venue.
“I’m concerned about the older people who can’t get out to Knightstown,” she said. “I just feel like, because we’re unincorporated, they’re trying to sweep it under the rug.”
The letter still taped to the front door, signed by Jeff Leffler, United States Postal Service Greater Indiana district manager of post office operations, apologizes for the convenience to Charlottesville postal customers. The Charlottesville post office closed Feb. 19.
Previously, a postal service employee had staffed the office for two hours a day, and the lobby was open for P.O. box customers from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.
That employee has been temporarily moved to the Greenfield post office, said Mary Dando, USPS spokeswoman.
The location is closed temporarily in order to give the landlord time to correct the safety issues, Dando said.
“There are a lot of safety concerns,” she said. “It’s very old and in very bad repair.”
Dando said a letter was sent to regular customers of the Charlottesville post office, informing them of the alternatives in the meantime.
The building is owned by Arlene and Bill Mize of Greenfield. Bill Mize said the postal service had contacted him twice — once about the furnace and once about a leaking window, both of which he said he had repaired — but had not contacted him before locking the building’s doors.
Mize believes it’s the postal service’s responsibility to maintain the property because they pay Mize only $300 per month in rent — not enough for him to absorb the cost of maintenance, he said.
He worries the postal service will close the small office indefinitely.
He estimated about 60 residents kept P.O. boxes there.
Officials said those customers can pick up their mail at the Knightstown post office. If that isn’t possible for the customer, they can call 765-345-5575 to set up temporary delivery.
The Knightstown post office, 37 N. Jefferson St., is open from 9 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.