Curbside mailboxes have sprung up in several Marion front yards as residents begin to comply with a Postal Service directive aimed at keeping carriers safe from dog attacks.
Long accustomed to getting mail outside their front doors, many customers don’t appreciate having to move mailboxes to the curb.
Mary Jeffrey, who lives in the 300 block of S. Freeborn St., does not own pets. She wants to know why her entire block has been flagged for mailboxes to be moved to the curb.
“If they are concerned about the letter carrier being attacked by dogs at large, then why make us put our boxes out so far that we are now at risk of those same dogs?” Jeffrey said. “The elderly? The children? Are they supposed to be put at risk?”
Parking is another concern, Jeffrey said. Since cars can park on only one side of the street, access to mailboxes will be blocked, she said.
Tillie Schafers, who lives in the 100 block of S. Freeborn St., said she was very unhappy about getting a letter saying the post office will be “unable” to deliver mail to her current mailbox. The letter gives three options: Install a new mailbox at the curb; rent a post office box; or file a change of address so mail can be delivered elsewhere.
“I am 85 and my husband 86, we can’t walk all that way, especially during icy times, to get the mail,” Schafers said.
Although the letter did not mention any way to get an exception to moving the mailbox, Schafers contacted Marion postmaster Lori Kelsey and was granted exclusion. So was another elderly resident on the same block.
John Friess, with USPS corporate communications, said postal service has suspended delivery to a city block where there is a loose dog, though he called the move “rare.”
“For us, the safety of our carriers is paramount,” Friess said. “There are a variety of ways we can address that.”
Friess said although there is no particular appeal process, a hardship exception can be granted based on anything.
Dawnell Funk, who also lives in the 100 block of S. Freeborn St., has two young toddlers.
“Am I supposed to just leave my kids alone in the house while I go get the mail?” Funk said.
Day care provider Melinda Schroeder, who lives in the 200 block of S. Freeborn St., will have to go through extra steps mandated by state law if she wants to check her mail during the day. It’s against the law to leave the children unattended while she is outside. This means she will have to take all the children with her to walk out and get the mail, or wait until the children have gone home.
Schroeder’s one dog is kept inside a privacy fence.
While Friess was sympathetic to stories of inconvenience caused by the USPS edict, he echoed Kelsey’s concern for the safety of mail carriers.
“Unfortunately, the presence of a dangerous animal makes it impossible for the Postal Service to deliver mail to that neighborhood reliably and without putting our carrier in danger. The Postal Service apologizes for any inconvenience, but irresponsible pet ownership has prompted this move.”
Other areas in town flagged for mailboxes to be relocated include a portion of S. Lincoln St., the 100 block of Billings St., one address on Miller St., and one address on Nickerson St.
Disclosure: Marion County Record office manager Karlene Lovelady, who contributed to this report, lives in an area of Marion affected by the decision to move mail delivery to curbsides.