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Dec. 5, 2021

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The Camas post office: Stamped for Closure?

U.S. Postal Service might sell building, move services

By , Columbian Health Reporter
Published:
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The U.S. Postal Service is considering closing the downtown Camas post office and moving the post office boxes and retail services to the carrier annex on Southeast Eighth Avenue. The postal service is accepting public comment on the consolidation through Dec. 31.
The U.S. Postal Service is considering closing the downtown Camas post office and moving the post office boxes and retail services to the carrier annex on Southeast Eighth Avenue. The postal service is accepting public comment on the consolidation through Dec. 31. A Salvation Army bell ringer stands in front of the building Wednesday while customers walk to the front door. Photo Gallery

CAMAS — The charming red brick building in the heart of downtown Camas may one day soon cease to house the community post office. After 70 years in downtown, the U.S. Postal Service is considering closing the post office doors and selling the building tucked among local businesses on Fifth Avenue.

The Postal Service is toying with the idea of moving the retail services, 710 post office boxes and office employees to the carrier annex in the eastern part of town. The annex, at 2455 S.E. Eighth Ave., serves as the hub for mail carriers in the area but does not offer services to the public.

“This is part of the charm, this building,” Camas resident Dora Davis said. “That would be a slap in the face of the whole downtown.”

The decision to close the downtown office, at 440 N.E. Fifth Ave., isn’t final, but U.S. Postal Service customer relations coordinator Ron Anderson said it’s a “very strong possibility.” The Postal Service is accepting public comment on the decision through the end of the year and should make a decision in late January or February, he said.

The change would save the Postal Service, which is not federally funded, overhead costs, said Anderson, coordinator for the Portland postal district, which includes Southwest Washington.

The United States Postal Service is accepting public comment on the proposed consolidation and closure of the downtown Camas post office through Dec. 31. Letters can be dropped off at the office, 440 N.E. Fifth Ave., or mailed to Camas Office Postmaster, Camas, WA 98607.

The United States Postal Service is accepting public comment on the proposed consolidation and closure of the downtown Camas post office through Dec. 31. Letters can be dropped off at the office, 440 N.E. Fifth Ave., or mailed to Camas Office Postmaster, Camas, WA 98607.

“From a business standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to continue to operate out of two separate buildings,” said Anderson, adding that the annex has enough square footage to house the operations of both buildings.

The Postal Service is not considering moving the annex to the downtown location because the downtown building does not have room to expand, Anderson said.

The consolidation would only move post office boxes and other services less than a mile and a half away, but some Camas residents say the new location would be out of the way.

“I would probably go to the one on Hearthwood,” Camas resident Mary Gray said. “It’s just too inconvenient to drive out to the industrial area.”

The east Vancouver post office would be easier to access from Gray’s home than the Camas office on Eighth Avenue, she said. The annex building is only about a mile and a half away from the Washougal post office. Gray also suspects many people who work downtown would be upset with the change because a trip to the post office would require a short drive as opposed to a couple-blocks walk.

Davis, who moved to the area a couple of years ago, said closing the “cute little post office” would be a big mistake. The consolidation would cause the downtown area to lose a piece of its personality and individuality, she said.

“You feel like you’re going back in time when you come here,” Davis said.

The building, which first opened as a post office in 1939, has taken its place in Papermaker history. Just its appearance offers a glimpse of the building’s presence throughout the years. The red brick is trimmed with white wood and surrounded by green hedges. Metal letters above the door read “United States Postal Service,” and the black lamps in front match the look of other downtown businesses.

“It’s an important building in the downtown area,” City Manager Lloyd Halverson said. “It’s used by many, many, many people. It’s got nice architecture to it. It would be a loss to the downtown area.”

The closure would also affect neighboring businesses, said Hal Zimmerman, former owner and publisher of the Camas-Washougal Post-Record newspaper. When people come downtown to visit the post office, they also make stops at other local shops, he said. Zimmerman said he doesn’t support any move that would close a downtown Camas business.

“It’s like asking that we should shut down the dime store or we should close out some other downtown store because some other business could fill it in,” he said. “I don’t consider that a logical step to take.”

But the consolidation would mean savings for the U.S. Postal Service. And with the Postal Service facing a loss of $3.8 billion in 2009, any savings help, Anderson said.

The consolidation would require remodeling at the annex to outfit the building with a retail area and space for post office boxes, Anderson said. That extra expense is being taken into account during the decision-making process but may not outweigh the savings of a consolidation, he said.

Camas resident Tom Kirk said he may give up his post office box if it means an extra drive, but hopes he doesn’t have to make that decision.

“I can understand from a business standpoint why they might want to consolidate, but I hope they don’t,” Kirk said. “It’s been here so long it’s part of the community.”

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546 or marissa.harshman@columbian.com.

Columbian Health Reporter
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