Sending out an SOS

Customers keep the lobby of the only Post Office in Mt. Pleasant busy Wednesday. The Mt. Pleasant town council member Gary Santos plans to raise the issue of the need for additional post office in Mount Pleasant.

MOUNT PLEASANT — Amid the day-after-Christmas lull at the post office, some customers said they agreed with Councilman Gary Santos that the town needs another postal facility to serve the rapidly growing northern part of town.

"I can't believe that a place the size geographically of Mount Pleasant doesn't have more than one post office," said Longpoint subdivision resident Robin Quick. She usually drives seven miles to Isle of Palms or 10 miles to Awendaw to avoid visiting the busy post office on Johnnie Dodds Boulevard.

Quick said that she went to the town post office, which is only three miles from her home, on Wednesday because she thought it wouldn't be crowded. "If they had a northern post office by Dunes West and Park West, then all of the people would go there," Quick said. She said most people up that way go to the post office in Awendaw or Isle of Palms.

Susan Terry said she procrastinated sending mail at the town post office in part because she disliked visiting the frontage road location at 1050 Johnnie Dodds Blvd. Exiting the post office requires a sharp eye to check for traffic coming around a curve. The frontage road leads to stop signs at congested Bowman Road or busy Anna Knapp Boulevard.

Santos said he will urge Town Council at its Jan. 8 meeting to vote to write a letter to U.S. Rep. Henry Brown, R-S.C., and U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., asking them to work to secure federal funds for a new post office to serve the northern area of town.

"The facility is woefully inadequate," Santos said Wednesday. It serves a town of more than 60,000, he noted, and some residents go to Sullivan's Island to avoid the town post office.

Town Postmaster Bob Bergdorf said there are 18 businesses that contract with the U.S. Postal Service to provide a variety of services, but more retailers are needed.

On Wednesday, a sign at the post office advised that Candle Cottage at 401 W. Coleman Blvd. would no longer provide postal services because it is closing Dec. 31.

Bergdorf said postal officials met with Santos and Town Administrator Mac Burdette at the end of 2005 to discuss the need for another post office. Growth has leveled off in Mount Pleasant, he said, but it is still climbing in Summerville and Lexington. In some areas, trailers are used for postal facilities. "Ours is not a hardship case. We are operationally fit. There are other people that are hurting," Bergdorf said.

He said residents in the north end of town can visit the Huger post office in addition to those in Awendaw, Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms. The town is on a waiting listing of up to eight years for a new post office, he said.

Postal Service priorities continue to move and shift as needs change, he said. The town post office, which has about 100 employees, operates with five workers at windows and is the No. 1 automated postal center in the state, he said.

"Mail delivery is fine. We have had some wait-time-in-line issues. It waxes and wanes," said Postal Service Communications Director Harry Spratlin. "The Postal Service right now is not expanding on a bricks-and-mortar basis," he said.

Spratlin said the majority of customers surveyed have expressed satisfaction with mail service. He noted that the Postal Service works to keep a lid on costs while receiving no tax subsidies. The Postal Service weighs the needs of the town as part of the service it provides at 38,000 post offices nationwide, he said.