By Devin Rose
As of June 30, postal carriers who formerly reported to the River Forest Post Office are now delivering mail from Oak Park's South Post Office on Garfield Street. Mail delivery in River Forest will not be impacted.
A supervisor at the River Forest Post Office, 401 William St., said there will still be a retail unit there, where customers can buy stamps, send mail and packages and have access to P.O. boxes.
"Now our transportation truck doesn't have to make all those stops," said Beverly Howard, the region's customer relations coordinator for the United States Postal Service.
Howard said the consolidation effort is part of a plan to save money. USPS is waiting to see what happens with a couple of bills before the U.S. Congress before it determines whether to further consolidate or close more facilities.
The agency put Illinois post office buildings in Lake Forest, Geneva, Naperville and Lake Zurich on the market in 2010. Carriers from Forest Park's post office moved to the south Oak Park branch office last year. The Forest Park office building went off the market earlier this year after an effort by the historical society in that village to acquire it.
Under a federal mandate in 2006, USPS has been funding health benefits for retired postal workers, Howard said. The mandate required them to overpay about $5 billion over 30 years, a practice the agency is trying to eliminate. Another matter in the legislature involves moving from six delivery days to five.
That financial strain has led to the consolidation of facilities and reduced post office hours, Howard said.
USPS has also been looking into more partnerships with businesses, depending on what the needs are in the community and what types of transactions are made. An interested business that has space could house the P.O. boxes or put up a retail window, Howard said. USPS currently partners with Jewel, which sells stamps.
Due to decreased mail volume, the agency has no need to purchase any other buildings for its operations. But Howard said it's "hard to say at this point" whether the consolidation could mean a future vacancy at the River Forest building.
Village Administrator Eric Palm said he had heard within the last month from someone in Rep. Danny Davis' office that the building would remain open. He could not say how a potential vacancy in the future might affect the village's plans for development.
The property was part of a former TIF district that is now dissolved.