MILLCREEK TWP. - Two Millcreek Township residents say something must be done to change how residents in and around Fisher retrieve their mail.
According to Richard Erb, who moved to Fisher from Pittsburgh with his wife Linda in 2011, they and others around them have to travel roughly seven miles each way in order to get their mail at the Strattanville Post Office.
The trip became necessary after the Fisher Post Office closed Aug. 1, 2019.
The post office is located one mile away from the Erb's home along Summerville Drive.
The Erbs, who are retired, began looking into a way to keep from having to travel to the Strattanville Post Office for their mail beginning Sept. 24, 2019.
"The Fisher post office encompassed half the town and Strattanville delivered to the other half of the town which is all around us," said Richard. "If people wanted a (rural delivery) mailbox, they went down to Strattanville and asked for a box by changing their address to Strattanville and then they would deliver mail out here."
Since the Fisher post office closed, Richard said he approached Strattanville Postmaster Amber Greeley about changing his address and putting a mailbox up at the Erbs' property for mail to be delivered there.
Richard said Greeley asked him if he could instead install a mailbox at the bottom of the hill near Summerville Drive.
Currently, around seven mailboxes are there, but Richard said the owner of the property where the mailboxes are located would no longer allow any more mailboxes to be placed there.
Richard said he relayed that information to Greeley, who said the Erbs could go to the Sigel post office to get their mail instead of Strattanville as an alternative option.
"It's not feasible for us," said Richard, who noted he and others affected by the closure of the Fisher office are largely made up of retired individuals who do not otherwise travel through Strattanville regularly and some suffer from a myriad of health issues.
The Erbs said they declined the options given by the USPS for delivery, citing the Sigel post office being a mile further from their home than the Strattanville post office and they are not permitted to add a mailbox where the handful of others are placed.
"There was nothing to turn down," said Richard. "If (the property owner) says not to put it on there, am I going to go down there and get in an argument with him about putting in a post?"
The Erbs possess a sheet signed by 113 residents of the area who they say have been negatively affected by the closure of the Fisher office in some way.
Those residents signed the paper during the most recent election in November.
Since September 24, 2019, Linda Erb said she has communicated with every level of government she felt could help expedite a resolution to their dilemma, including the Strattanville post office, Millcreek Township supervisors, state Rep. Donna Oberlander's (R-63) office, U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson's (R-15) office, and USPS Western Pennsylvania District manager Troy Seanor, among others.
Within a written response to an inquiry by Thompson's office on behalf of the Erbs regarding their mail delivery, Seanor noted the Fisher office was closed because of unsafe conditions there.
"Delivery of mail without charge to the recipient is available to all postal customers," the response reads. "Where residential delivery service is authorized, it is provided by means of city carriers, rural carriers, and highway contractors."
The response continues, "Customers who are ineligible for carrier delivery can obtain free post office box service. The residents of Fisher are not eligible for carrier delivery and, at this time, there are no plans to permanently extend delivery service in that area."
Still, the Erbs say deliveries are made near and around their property often.
"If we didn't get deliveries all around us, we wouldn't have a problem with any of it," said Richard. "It would just be what it is."
"If you're not a taxpayer that's one thing, but we're all the same out here," said Linda. "We're not asking for a special favor. This is just what they are supposed to be doing. When we moved out here, we didn't think there would be any problems.
"We're not asking for the Pony Express to cut across several territories because they're already delivering to this area."
Richard noted before retiring, he worked as a deliveryman for Giant Eagle and understands routes can be changed according to need, despite being told Summerville Drive is not a part of the current mail route.
"We have a 24/7 maintenance road that we live on right here," said Richard. "We could put eight to ten mailboxes on mine and the neighbor's property out front and accommodate this whole area. You can tell it's a government entity because UPS and FedEx would want all the work."
The Erbs say they would also be OK with a cluster box unit mailbox to be placed at the Fisher office if possible, or at the Millcreek Township municipal building.
"I didn't think it would be this hard in this day and age to get mail delivered to an area that already has mail delivered," said Linda. "It just seems unreal."
The latest correspondence the Erbs have received came Jan. 9. Within the letter, USPS consumer & industry manager Laureen B. Alt indicated postal service representatives would be in Fisher soon to assess the situation and develop a plan of action.
"As a result, any option for street delivery that was extended is no longer available," the letter reads. "Once a decision is made, the community will be notified."
The Erbs said they had been told a postal service representative would be sent in September, but did not come.
"We're in January," said Richard. "I'm thinking if you just let this ride, it will be locked in and they won't do anything with this. They might just need one more postal worker to deliver to the rest of this town."
He continued, "However they want to fix it, they can. But right now, they are not doing anything. They are dragging their feet."