Lansing Post Office Box Lobby Hours To Expand

After the driver of a Jeep Grand Cherokee smashed through the Lansing Post Office December 24th, the branch was closed for about six weeks.  Post Office Box customers in particular were inconvenienced, since they now needed to stand in line at the main post office on Warren Road to get their box mail.  But in a way, that driver may have done Lansing PO Box holders a favor.  USPS spokeswoman Karen Mazurkiewicz says that Lansing's PO Box lobby will be open 24/7 starting Saturday, August 19th.

Until now the box lobby has only been open during the times when the counter is open.  That meant box holders could only pick up their mail five afternoons a week plus Saturday morning.  While they will still need to come during counter hours if there is a package too large to fit into their boxes, the expanded hours will mean they can get most of their mail any time they want.

The reason PO Box hours were restricted is security.  Box lobbies that are open 24/7 must be built to a security standard, then approved by a USPS inspector.  The Lansing branch's box lobby was not constructed to this standard, thus limiting access to hours a postal service employee was on the premises.  This was less of an issue for box holders when the branch was open most of each weekday, but became more restrictive when counter hours were curtailed.

According to postal authorities, well designed post offices are part of a preventative solution to theft and vandalism.  The USPS Web site warns that "Willful damage to mailboxes and theft are federal crimes (felonies) punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. (18 U.S. Code 1705 & 1708) Label 33, June 1994."

Last December's incident was the second time in under a decade a vehicle has smashed through the Lansing Post Office.  Since a considerable amount of construction was needed to restore walls, glass, and the service counter anyway,  the decision was made to rebuild the box lobby walls to the standard that would allow it to remain open, even when postal employees are not present.

However, when the branch reopened in late February the old, restricted hours were reinstated.  There was talk of opening the box lobby all day, every day, but local postal officials had to wait for an inspector to give the OK.  Early last month Mazurkiewicz said an inspection had been conducted.

"The U.S. Postal Inspection Service assessment did provide a short list of items to correct," she said at that time.  "Those items have been taken care of and now we are just waiting for their final approval. We hope the change will occur soon as we are as anxious as the community to provide 24 hour access."

That approval has finally been granted.  Mazurkiewicz says signs will be posted letting box holders know about the change, and 24/7 box hours will begin a week from tomorrow (August 19th).