The following letter, which went to the Bristol Board of Selectmen, the N.H. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Consumer Advocate, the U.S. Postal Service Safety Office, Congressman Ann Kuster, and Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen, is submitted for publication:
We previously contacted you about the dangerous decision by the new Bristol postmaster, James Howell, who on March 14 — without any advance notice — halted the home delivery of mail on Summer Street until residents moved their mailboxes from the buildings where they were mounted to the end of their driveways. His ill-considered excuse was that "delivery of mail on Summer St poses a grave threat to the safety of our Letter Carrier".
The problem here is that we have a retaining wall in front of our house. We previously had a mailbox in front of our house but, because of the retaining wall, the box was too close to the road for safety. The carrier had no place to pull off the heavily traveled road. Summer Street (Route 104) is a major east-west highway, and we were in danger, too, when we went to retrieve the mail. Additionally, during the winter, the snowplow constantly buried the mailbox because there is no other place to push the snow. Again, because it is a major highway, we found that, as soon as we shoveled out the mailbox, it would be plowed in again.
The place where Mr. Howell is asking us to place the mailbox — at the end of the driveway we share with our neighbor — is the only spot the town has to pile the snow from the sidewalk that leads up to our home. The far end of that shared driveway is where the town piles the snow when plowing the sidewalk, and it is the location where Mr. Howell would have us place the mailbox.
After we sent the initial letters out and other residents of Summer Street also had bombarded the post office with complaints, the postmaster reconsidered his decision and resumed mail delivery, so those of you who had responded to us were notified that the problem had been resolved.
This week, as part of an obviously personal vendetta in retaliation for our having contacted his superiors and other public officials, Mr. Howell ordered the letter carrier to stop delivering mail to 125 Summer Street — again without any notification to us. We know it was a vendetta because we simply stopped receiving mail, while other Summer Street residents are continuing to receive their mail without having to place mailboxes on the street.
When we stopped at the post office to find out what was going on, Mr. Howell again refused to listen to reason and said our choices are to place the mailbox at the end of our driveway, or to put it a quarter-mile away, out of sight of the house, at the end of Winter Street Extension, the dirt road that leads to our back driveway. He said if we failed to agree to one of those options, he would simply return our mail to the senders as undeliverable.
This outrageous abuse of authority from a man who clearly has no idea what safety is must be addressed. He is putting us and the carrier in danger, as well as creating a problem for the town highway crew that clears the sidewalk and the the state highway crew that maintains the roadway. The traffic on Summer Street is a problem this time of year, but it is even worse during the winter.
The purpose of the U.S. Postal Service is to see that the mail gets through, not to leave delivery to the whims of a tyrant of Mr. Howell's ilk.
Thomas P. & Lee Caldwell