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Post office to wait on curbside delivery

The new postmaster won't enforce the change from door to curbside delivery until the city makes a formal decision.

By JON WILSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 6, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- For the time being, the city's postal customers won't get crunched between two government agencies debating curbside mail delivery.

Thomas W. Pawlowski, the city's new postmaster, says he won't pursue conversions of door delivery to curbside while the issue is being discussed.

And the city won't enforce an ordinance banning the curbside boxes, or cite homeowners who don't have a permit for one.

"The customers are the ones who have been suffering, so we need to figure out how to solve that," Pawlowski said.

The city's 19th postmaster will be officially installed at 10 a.m. today during a ceremony in the main post office lobby, 3135 First Ave. N. Mayor David Fischer will be among the officials present.

Pawlowski, who turned 48 years old Sunday, replaces Martha Worrell, who has retired.

The new job is a homecoming of sorts for Pawlowski, a native of Amsterdam, N.Y., who started his postal career in 1974 as a clerk in Tampa, where he also attended the University of South Florida. After graduating from high school in Erie, Pa., he also attended the University of Akron in Ohio.

Pawlowski stayed in Tampa for 13 years before moving on to postal service jobs at such stops as Fort Lauderdale and Jackson, Miss.

Most recently, Pawlowski was manager of postal retail operations in the Midwest, which included seven districts in eight states.

He and his wife Cheryl have three children.

Pawlowski, who has met with the City Council and other city officials during the past few weeks, is well aware of the longstanding curbside delivery controversy in St. Petersburg.

"It seems that's the one big issue we have that keeps us from having a good relationship with the community," Pawlowski said earlier this week.

The postmaster said he prefers that customers have a choice between curbside delivery and delivery to the door.

But while the issue remains under discussion with the city, residents should expect no clumps of curbline boxes making unexpected appearances around the city, Pawlowski said.

"We will no longer put any boxes on the curb until we figure out where we are going," Pawlowski said, noting that an exception would be made if a carrier's safety -- threatened by a dog, for example -- became an issue.

"If any (curbside boxes) pop up, we'll take them out," the postmaster said.

Meanwhile, Pawlowski said he expects to emphasize several areas that would affect customer access to postal services:

Expansion of the Consumer Advisory Council, a panel of residents who discuss issues of interest to post office customers. St. Petersburg has one now, Pawlowski said, but he wants to create more -- perhaps one for each two stations in the city. (There are currently 10 stations, plus the main post office.)

The councils could be a vehicle to let neighborhood association presidents know, for example, when postal officials have identified a dog as posing a carrier safety threat in a neighborhood.

Continuing and perhaps expanding contract postal units, which offer a postal window within an existing business.

Pawlowski said he might be looking to form contract partnerships with larger, stable businesses such as supermarket chains.

Looking at staff and scheduling at the windows in postal stations, with an eye toward keeping customers from spending any more than five minutes in a line.

City officials have reconfirmed enforcement of the curbside mailbox ban is on indefinite hold.

"We are not going to send code investigators to cite specifically for mailboxes," said Susan Ajoc, the city's Neighborhood Partnership director.

But the city continues to encourage residents to send in temporary permit applications that have been left at the doors of curbside box owners. "We're still trying to collect information," Ajoc said.

In August, the City Council required curbside box owners to get a permit. The council also said the permits would be available for free through Jan. 12, but that date could be be extended as city and postal officials try to come to an agreement.

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