July 26. 2011 2:00AM - Last modified: March 14. 2012 1:23PM

Postal Service ponders closures in Wisconsin


The U.S. Postal Service is considering closing 3,653 post offices throughout the country, including 41 in Wisconsin, and the agency's financial problems also could signal the demise of a proposed distribution center and mail processing facility in Oak Creek.
The Wisconsin post offices being considered for closure include six in the city of Milwaukee: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (53212); Hampton (53218); Mid City (53208); Parklawn (53216); and Teutonia (53206).
Most of the others marked for closure are in rural areas (See complete list here.)
Most are located within five miles of another post office location.
The declining use of postal mail and the closures of many local postal offices could also signal the demise of a proposed new 820,000-square-foot mail center on 64 acres of vacant land at the southwest corner of College Avenue and Pennsylvania Road in Oak Creek. The new facility was proposed in 2008 with plans to replace the distribution center and mail processing facility at 345 W. St. Paul Ave. in downtown Milwaukee and a warehouse on South Second Street in Milwaukee.
The Oak Creek site is a prime real estate parcel at the city's borders with South Milwaukee and Cudahy. The site also is near General Mitchell International Airport.
However, the project has been delayed indefinitely since the Great Recession began.
One postal official told BizTimes he believed the Oak Creek project is dead, but he had no official declaration.
Another Postal Service spokesman, James Mruk, said in an e-mail to BizTimes today, "Right now the Postal Service has more facilities, equipment, workroom floor space and staffing than it needs to handle our current volume of mail and retail lobby transactions. We expect this trend to continue in the near future. We still own the property in Oak Creek, WI, but have not made a decision regarding how we plan to use in the future."
The Postal Service is proposing the "Village Post Office" concept, in which pharmacies and other retailers would sell stamps, flat-rate packaging and other products.
"Today, more than 35 percent of the Postal Service's retail revenue comes from expanded access locations such as grocery stores, drug stores, office supply stores, retail chains, self-service kiosks, ATMs and usps.com, open 24/7," Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in a statement. "Our customer's habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business."
The Postal Service primarily generates its revenues by selling postage. Those revenues have declined, as people have shifted communications to e-mail and texting on cell phones, and as competitors such as FedEx and UPS have increased their reach.
In 2010, postal mail volumes fell 3.5 percent, pushing the Postal Service to a record net loss of $8.5 billion. The wider losses have continued through the first two quarters of the current fiscal year.
To cut costs, the Postal Service has eliminated 110,000 jobs over the past four years.
Clerks, mechanics, drivers and other members of the American Postal Workers Union have agreed to wage freezes, higher health care costs and other contract concessions.
The Postal Service is asking Congress for permission to stop Saturday mail delivery, which it says could save $3.1 billion a year.