ELKO — Some Elko residents got an unexpected interruption in mail service this year when they were asked to move their mailboxes closer to the street.
After hearing complaints about the notices, the Free Press contacted a U.S. Postal Service representative this week and was told new tenants will no longer be required to move the boxes.
According to David Rupert, postal spokesman for Nevada, the Elko post office has been sending letters over the last year to people who moved in or rented homes where the boxes were far from the street on certain routes.
The letter became a major inconvenience for at least one Elko resident. Anthony Mori said he hadn’t been getting his mail for a couple of weeks when he was given a second notice saying his box needed to be moved.
“I never received a first notice,” Mori said. “… They said they would not deliver because it was too far from the street.”
Mori rents a house from someone who’s owned it for years. The mailbox was on the porch less than 20 feet from the fence, he said.
But when Mori went to the post office to collect his mail, he said, he was turned away.
“They wouldn’t drop (the mail) in the box and they wouldn’t give it to me, either,” Mori said.
Mori returned the next day to complain to a supervisor, who gave him his mail. One bill was overdue. He then complied with the request and moved his box to the fence, where it was exposed to the elements in a recent rainstorm.
“Everything was soaked,” Mori said.
The Rev. Nathan “Buck” LeGreco of St. Mark Lutheran Church said the church had to move the mailbox at the parsonage before he moved in this summer. Don Pietz, the church’s head trustee, installed a new box and post closer to the street after getting specifications from the post office.
The letter stated “In an effort to provide a safer work environment for postal workers we’re asking you to move your mailbox within 10 days,” Pietz said.
It added that the change was required because the house had become vacant and would have new occupancy. Mail would not be delivered until the box was moved.
Pietz, however, purchased the new box because “It would have been a little difficult” to move the old, wall-mounted box closer to the street where required. Pietz also believed a mailbox with a lock would be safer.
Rupert explained that new tenants on some routes had been notified to move the mailboxes to allow carriers to better serve them from their vehicle.
“After a review of our policies, we have determined that any change of delivery boxes to these neighborhoods will be strictly on voluntary basis by the customers,” Rupert said Thursday. “… We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers.”
The post office is still encouraging customers to voluntarily move boxes to the fence line or on a post, allowing for the efficient and safe delivery of mail, he said.
“It’s safer to deliver on the outside of the fence,” Rupert said.
Mori said he would like to move his mailbox back where it can be protected from the rain. Many of his neighbors who are longtime residents have mailboxes that are even farther from the street than his. None of them have received notices, he said.
“When it comes to someone’s mail, why does seniority make a difference?” Mori said.
Rupert said that especially in the older parts of town, some old-style boxes are not large enough to fit large envelopes or small parcels. Additionally, many of the slots in the door are not large enough.
“Maybe your mailbox isn’t up with the times, but we’re not requiring you to replace it,” Rupert said.
Rupert encourages residents to think about how they can protect everyone by moving or replacing their mailboxes voluntarily.
If residents who have already moved their boxes would like to move them back, Rupert recommends they go to their local office.
“Any changes to boxes that have already been established should be in consultation with the local postmaster,” he said.