Liz Paulk was at home last Friday when she heard several United States Postal Service trucks pull up in front of her house.
“I asked what they were doing, and they told me there had been a threatening dog incident on the block and they had a zero-tolerance policy,” she said.
She then watched as the postal workers unloaded a concrete slab and placed it the grass. Then they unloaded a brand new cluster mailbox — nearly six feet tall — and bolted it down to the slab now in her front yard. It was the first that she, or any of her neighbors, had heard of the decision to stop door-to-door mail delivery. And it was definitely the first time she had heard a government agency would be putting such a massive fixture on her property.
Now, Paulk says, the residents of the 16 houses to her south must come up to her house and walk on her lawn to get their mail. Meanwhile, the house directly to her north and all of the houses across the street continue to get door-to-door delivery.
“I just have to ask whether it’s really fair,” she said. “If it were all of Reinhardt, that would be one thing. But here we are, having worked very hard to keep our dogs away from the mailmen over the years, and it’s almost like we’re the ones being punished.”
The lack of communication prior to implementation of the Reinhardt cluster boxes caught dozens of neighbors off guard, and they’ve spent the past week scrambling to convince the Post Office to reconsider — or at least better explain the reasoning behind the move. No one at the Postal Service, Paulk said, will identify which houses have been listed as having “threatening dogs” in the area, and no one knows exactly what incident led to the decision.
Nearly three dozen neighborhood residents gathered at the home of Paulk’s neighbor and former Fairway mayor John St. Clair, Jr., last night to organize and share ideas for dealing with the situation. But, St. Clair says, the group’s repeated requests to meet with Postmaster Russell Jacobson, who makes the ultimate decisions on cluster box implementation in our area, have been met with refusal after refusal.
The whole incident also prompted the city of Fairway to issue a message via email to residents Thursday encouraging residents to “make sure that your postal carrier has a clear path to your mail receptacle.”
“Pet owners should make sure that their dogs are properly restrained,” the message read. “Invisible fencing and tether leads are not fail safe methods for restraint and family pets may perceive anyone entering your property as a threat.”
The message said Fairway mayor Jerry Wiley has also been working with Jacobson on options for reinstituting home delivery for the neighborhood. Wiley has requested that Jacobson attend the Fairway City Council meeting June 11 to answer questions from residents and the City Council. Jacobson has not agreed to attend the meeting yet.