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Hundreds of post office boxes used by Lady's Island residents and business owners will be eliminated under a plan to move the island's satellite post office less than a mile away.'
For the past eight years the U.S. Postal Service has contracted with Review Printing in the Winn Dixie shopping center off U.S. 21 to house its small office serving Lady's Island's growing population. '
But postal officials rebid the contract late last year and have decided to move across Sea Island Parkway to the Paper Company, next to Food Lion.'
The new office, which will open March 22, could inconvenience the more than 200 people who use post office boxes at the Review Printing site.'
Donna Ricks, regional spokeswoman for the postal service, said boxes won't be set up at the Paper Company. In 2002, federal officials decided to stop installing boxes in satellite offices for several reasons including cost and service irregularity, she said.'
Although Quinton Chapman, owner of Review Printing, didn't bid to hold onto the postal contract, Ricks said the 300 boxes at his site would have been removed even if service had continued there.'
"Customers wouldn't have had them one way or another," she said, adding that the high cost of moving boxes between satellite offices gives contractors an advantage when bargaining with the Postal Service for more money. "They can come back and hold that against us when they come in asking for a raise."'
The Postal Service pays Chapman about $75,000 a year for his contract while the Paper Company will be paid based on a percentage of postal sales.'
Postal officials didn't immediately know what that percentage will be. Chapman said his site brings in about $400,000 in revenue for the Postal Service every year.'
Area business owners aren't happy with the answers they're receiving from the Postal Service and say they like the extra security and service they get from the boxes at Chapman's office.'
"I like the convenience, timeliness and service," Lady's Island business owner Bob Gross said Wednesday morning, shortly after getting his mail from one of the 260 boxes rented from the small office. "Lady's Island is one of the fastest growing areas of the fastest growing county. Instead of lowering the level of service (the Postal Service) should be raising it."'
Chapman said he didn't bid on the new contract because he was told it was for a second satellite office, not the one he was operating.'
"Why would I want to compete with myself?" he said.'
But Ricks said Chapman asked for a big increase in his contract forcing the Postal Service to look for an alternate site.'
"Mr. Chapman was on a fixed rate and he wanted a lot more money," she said.'
Postal officials say customers who use boxes on Lady's Island can look to rent from other area offices in Beaufort, Port Royal, St. Helena Island and Burton. Hundreds of boxes at those four sites are available. Customers could also have mail held for pick up or choose regular route delivery.