USPS ANNOUNCES DECISION TO CLOSE HISTORIC LĪHU‘E POST OFFICE
12/6/2017: The United States Postal Service (USPS) announced its final decision to close the historic post office on Rice Street in Lihue, Kaua‘i, via letter to Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho dated November 29.
USPS received over a thousand written comments in opposition to the proposal to “relocate retail services” from the historic facility to the Līhu‘e Carrier Annex on Kapule Highway. Letters in opposition to the move were sent to USPS by Historic Hawai‘i Foundation, Līhu‘e Business Association, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Mayor Carvalho, U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, Governor David Ige, State Senate President Ron Kouchi and other officials. Over 850 postcards and 116 coconut mailers were also sent to oppose the move. Many citizens and residents sent individual letters and signed an online petition to save the historic post office.
Despite the overwhelming opposition of the community, USPS stated that “the Postal Service has determined that the relocation is the optimal solution to satisfy the Postal Service’s need to improve operational efficiency, and reduce the financial burdens facing the Postal Service.”
At the February 23, 2017 public meeting, the USPS representative claimed that the proposed relocation was not prompted by financial concerns, but rather was in response to the need to address parking and vehicular access issues. In response, the County of Kaua‘i offered to set aside dedicated parking spaces in the Civic Center lot directly across the street from the post office with a cross walk. The County is also implementing transportation and street improvement projects that address pedestrian safety, bicycle access, vehicular safety and parking in the Līhu‘e Town Core.
Although USPS claimed that it “considered community input,” the notice of the intent to “dispose” of the historic building was issued prior to the notice of the public comment period on the relocation. The timing indicates that USPS determined its course of action without regard to public concerns and had a predetermined outcome.
The Lihue Post Office is listed on both the National and Hawai‘i Registers of Historic Places. Prior to “disposal” through sale of the property, USPS is required to consider the effect of its action on the historic property and resolve any adverse effects through the Section 106 process. HHF is a consulting party to the historic preservation review and submitted extensive written comments on what would constitute a meaningful long-term preservation commitment, consistent with federal laws, regulations and guidelines.
10/12/2017 – The public has until November 10 to submit comments in support of keeping the post office open at its Rice Street location:
With the 2nd public meeting complete, the public is encouraged to submit comments to the USPS address noted below by Friday, November 10, 2017. Scroll down for sample messaging. Be sure to include your personal connection to the post office and how it adds value to your life and the downtown core for greater impact.
Mail your support letters to:
United States Postal Service
Attn: Greg Shelton-Lihue HI
200 E Kentucky Ave
Denver, CO 80209-9950
9/12/17 – The Latest on the US Postal Service’s Proposed Plan to Relocate Operations
On June 23, 2017, the United States Postal Service issued a letter to Līhu‘e Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. noting that the USPS has decided to return for another public meeting to more fully explain the proposed relocation and have a new discussion with the mayor and community.
A new public meeting has been called and will take place on October 11, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall Exhibition Room, 4191 Hardy Street in Līhu‘e Street. See below for copies of the public meeting notice and the June 23 letter to Mayor Carvalho.
Please check back for more information and advocacy suggestions.
4/27/17: Update on the Campaign to Save Lihue Post Office
On April 27, 2017, the United States Postal Service issued an announcement that it has decided to redo the regulatory process related to the proposal to relocate the retail operations of Lihue Post Office from its current location on Rice Street to its Lihue Carrier Annex facility at 3230 Kapule Highway.
In a letter also dated April 27 addressed to Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr., Tom A. Samra, V.P., Facilities, for the United States Postal Service, noted, “I reviewed the concerns you and others in the Lihue community have expressed, and I determined that the Postal Service should redo the regulatory process to better inform elected officials and the community of the Postal Service’s need for relocation and to better explain the proposal to meet that need.”
What This Means
This means the entire process will begin anew. There will be a new comment period and/or another community meeting according to the announcement. Essentially, we will need your heroic efforts to make your voice heard in favor of keeping Līhu‘e Post Office open, once again. We’ll keep you “posted” and let you know when you need to act.
What You Can Do
Mahalo for your tremendous efforts and enthusiasm thus far!
Līhu‘e Post Office Under Threat of Closure – See Update Below on How You Can Help
HHF joined the County of Kaua‘i, Lihu‘e Business Association, National Trust for Historic Preservation and hundreds of local residents and business owners in opposing the move and “disposal” of the post office. The preservation campaign included getting the word out about the threatened closure via door-to-door canvassing, urging attendance at the public meeting, press alerts and social media exposure. About 150 people attend the public meeting in late February.
The video below created by a team of students from Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, documents the process. It will be part of the PBS Hawai‘i “HikiNo” series.
What is it?
The first stand-alone post office on Kaua‘i built in 1939. The original proposed design, a Depression-era mission-style fortress, was met by a storm of protest by Kaua‘i citizens led by postal engineer Floyd Williams, who successfully championed a redesign. The revised design was the architecturally popular Spanish mission revival style prevalent in the 1930s. The post office is one of 3 Mediterranean-style buildings in the town core constructed during that decade.
It took 10 years from the time territorial senator Charles Rice introduced a resolution to the U.S. Congress to provide funds for a new post office until Līhu‘e Post Office’s dedication in 1939. According to members of the business and local community it is an integral part of life in Līhu‘e and complements efforts to enhance and grow a walkable downtown area.
What Threatens it?
Closure of Līhu‘e Post Office was announced via a Public Notice posted on January 23 in the lobby of the building located at 4441 Rice Street. The notice solicited public comments on a proposal to end postal operations at that facility. A follow-up message later clarified that the proposal being considered is to consolidate USPS retail operations currently located at 4441 Rice Street with our USPS Carrier Annex facility at 3230 Kapule Highway.
Why Does it Matter?
“The Lihue Post Office is an extremely important historic building in our town and for our island heritage. It also is an integral component in our work to enhance a walkable livable community in Līhu‘e,” said Pat Griffin, the immediate past Chair of the Kaua‘i Historic Preservation Review Commission, President of the Līhu‘e Business Association and HHF Board Member. “It’s a well-preserved example of a small single-purpose post office, is still in excellent condition and well used today.”
Pat said the post office is a key part of the revitalization plan. “If postal services are moved to the USPS facility adjacent to the airport, people will no longer be able to walk to the post office,” Griffin said. “They’ll have to get into cars and onto Kapule Highway. Such a location change is old-style thinking, exactly opposite of today’s accepted planning practices.”
Līhu‘e Post Office is on both the Hawai‘i State Register and the National Register of Historic Places.