Despite assurances from the U.S. Postal Service that it would find another location in the city if it abandons the current post office on Masonic Street in New London, there is reason for concern.
We sympathize with the financial plight of the Postal Service, by some estimates now operating at a loss of about $25 million a day. The development of electronic messaging and increased private industry competition for package delivery, along with its legacy of providing services at thousands of small offices, is financially squeezing the Postal Service.
And we recognize that no one wants to see their post office close. Senators and congressmen appear to want it both ways, demanding that the Postal Service magically trim its losses, but protesting when proposals call for closing post offices in their states and congressional districts.
Post offices will have to be closed and trimming delivery to five days a week deserves serious consideration. And the option under consideration in New London has merit - relocate the home base of the city's letter carriers to a new facility in neighboring Waterford, while finding a new, smaller and more affordable location for the New London office.
What we fear, and what elected leaders should work hard to make sure does not happen, is that the existing New London post office closes and that new location never opens, or opens in a spot that disenfranchises too many.
As its name implies, the U.S. Postal Service is primarily a service, not a business in which trying to make money and balance books should be the top priority. And a post office is a service particularly vital in an urban setting such as New London. A city's transient population makes use of its P.O. boxes, its lower income residents are more likely to need its money order and money transfer services, those without cars need a post office within walking distance or not far from bus lines.
Telling New Londoners they must find their way to Waterford for such services will not do. New London needs a full service post office. That's the commitment the Postal Service appears to be making, a commitment the public and elected leaders must hold them to.