August 18, 2020

Mailboxes being replaced, not removed

The U.S. Postal Service mailboxes that were removed across the city this weekend will be replaced.

The blue USPS collection boxes were collected from various locations in Gloucester this weekend, conjuring up concerns among some residents about why they were being taken. The boxes are being replaced with more secure boxes that have a slot as opposed to a pull-down handle.

“They are swapping those out one-for-one out of the Gloucester area,” said USPS spokesperson Steve Doherty on Monday, explaining that it is a part of postal service's regular maintenance and upgrade plan for the area.

Doherty said that last October the Aviation Mail Security Rule was modified to make mail delivery safer by requiring all packages more than one-half inch thick and, or weighing more than 10 ounces be brought to a retail counter. The new collection boxes' smaller slot will enforce this update since the majority of packages bigger than the criteria will not fit.

"We found that people were dropping over-sized packages in the boxes," he said. "The new collection boxes really will only take in letter-sized mail."

In the city of Brighton, a similar curiosity spread after a photo of mailboxes being carried away in a flatbed truck circulated on social media. Doherty confirmed that it was the same deal.

The timing for the overhaul, however, comes at a fragile moment in American history.

During an interview with Fox Business Network last week, President Donald Trump stated that he opposes providing additional funding to the postal service to help deliver mail-in ballots for the November federal elections.

This statement garnered global coverage as the world wonders what this fall's election will look like amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“To be honest, it was probably bad timing,” Doherty admitted to the Times.

He referenced similar reactions out west as people assumed that the removal of collection boxes before the election was sabotage.

“That story kind of spread,” he added, explaining that — again — the removal of the boxes was in anticipation of replacing them with the upgraded model.

Local and state officials made their own round of calls to make sure that the boxes were in fact getting replaced.

Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante took a drive on Sunday to make sure that the new boxes were being installed.

With four photos featuring the new collection boxes, Ferrante wrote on her Facebook page, "I understand there was a Rachel Maddow Show, which highlighted the removal of mailboxes in Western states, however, to date it does not appear to be the case, here, on Cape Ann."

After calling the local postmaster, Congressman Seth Moulton also confirmed that the boxes are being replaced.

“I can understand everyone’s concern given the recent reporting about other cities and the president’s comments this week,” Moulton posted on his Twitter and Facebook feed. “I will continue monitoring this and fighting to protect the postal service and our elections.”

By:  Taylor Ann Bradford
Source: Gloucester Times