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Postal customers back in line

Allyn Harvey

Postal officials have suspended a plan to have patrons take a number and a seat in the lobby of the Aspen post office while awaiting their turn for service.

On Tuesday, post office customers in Aspen were told to take a number from the dispenser and wait until it was called. Benches along the back wall were supposed to offer respite from the tedium of standing in line and a chance for locals to chat, or read their mail.

But after just one day, interim Postmaster Bob Reinstra reinstated the old system of standing in line, though he may give the number system another chance sometime soon.

“We’re just trying to make it more pleasant,” he said.

Reinstra said that the system has proven itself in larger cities, where lines of two dozen people are common. For whatever reason – perhaps its similarity to driver’s license offices with their notorious reputation for slow service – Aspenites didn’t appreciate the change.

“A few people here liked it,” Reinstra said, “but the majority of our customers weren’t impressed.”

One postal patron came into The Aspen Times office Tuesday and said some of the slower service representatives moved at an even more tortoise-like pace than usual. After finishing with a customer, a few employees reportedly stood and stared at the people seated against the wall without calling the next number.

Reinstra also confirmed that the city of Aspen and the post office are looking to relocate the newspaper vending area immediately across the sidewalk from its old location. Around the same time last month he met with U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis regarding the newspaper vending boxes, Reinstra met with representatives from the city and hammered out a plan.

He said the city agreed to help pay for a concrete pad that would house the machines. Representatives from the city manager’s office could not be reached for comment.

“Basically, it’s been agreed to by everybody,” Reinstra said. “We just need approval from our bosses.”

McInnis, a Republican who represents all of the Western Slope, praised Reinstra for his willingness to compromise.

“Those machines have been located near the post office for a long time,” McInnis wrote in a letter to Reinstra, “and their continued presence will accommodate those who have come to rely on their accessibility. Their reintroduction will no doubt [please] your patrons as well as provide a valuable service for the passerby.”

Reinstra is one of three candidates remaining to fill the still-vacant position of postmaster in Aspen. He said the final choice will be made in the next few weeks.


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