Everyone likes to complain about the post office. But Don Heimburger qualifies as something of an expert on the Forest Park post office. As the owner of Heimburger House Publishing, located at 7236 Madison St., he or his employees are at the post office nearly every day. His business depends on it.
And while Heimburger says the timeliness of his mail delivery has dramatically improved in the two years since the Review first reported on this topic, he and others are still disappointed at the long waits in line and the general appearance of the post office.
“If you added up all the time I spent in line down there I bet I’ve spent a year in my life down there,” said Heimburger. “With the large building to have just one or two windows that’s really pretty sad, I think.”
Heimburger and others have also complained that the post office is dirty and looks run down and some have complaints about mail delivery.
“The walls and ceilings are just caked with dirt,” said Heimburger. “I’m up there every day. I hear a lot of complaints: mail being lost, mail not being delivered.”
For a long time this fall one of the doors of the post office was taped off while some tiles were being repaired.
A recent visit to the post office at midday resulted in a ten minute wait in line to buy stamps. Some scattered scraps of paper were lying about in the lobby and many mail forms were missing from the table in the lobby. Only six of 15 forms that were supposed to be available in the lobby were actually there.
The post office is aware of these problems said US Postal Service spokesman Sean Hargadon, who is based at the Northern Illinois District headquarters in Carol Stream.
Gloria Gaydon has been the officer in charge, a position that often leads to becoming postmaster, since January Hargadon said. Gaydon replaced postmaster Duane Russell, who was transferred to Maywood. Gaydon politely declined a request for an interview and said that all press inquires had to go through the district office.
Hargadon said that the maintenance person of the post office has been on leave for an unspecified period of time and that the post office is in the process of hiring a private contractor to give the post office a one time thorough cleaning.
“They are in the process of getting a contractor to give it a clean sweep: up and down, in and out,” said Hargadon.
Some in Forest Park just avoid the post office all together and use the post offices in Oak Park and River Forest. The Oak Park post office is open for window service until 7:00 p.m. from Monday through Friday while the Forest Park post office’s window services shuts down at 5:00 p.m. Retail hours are based on customer demand, Hargadon said.
“If you compare Forest Park (post office) with Oak Park or River Forest Forest Park would not be up there ranking very high,” said Heimburger.
Steve Backman agrees. Citizens united for Forest Park (CUinFP), of which Backman is president, maintains a post office box at the Forest Park post office, and he remembers at least two incidents where checks or membership materials mailed to his group never arrived.
A Chamber of Commerce welcome kit was mailed to CUinFP seven months ago, but never arrived, Backman said.
“Being a regular user of that post office for a number of years it’s just been spiraling down,” said Backman.
But Backman said the clerks are friendly. “On the whole the front line people are very nice,” he said.
Heimburger said he has heard post office clerks complain about their equipment.
“The clerks think the weighing machines are very outdated,” said Heimburger.
Turnover at the top has also been a problem.
Perhaps Gaydon will be able stay long enough to solve the problems, and the post office will look eventually look as good as the mural on the south wall that was cleaned and rededicated a little more than one year ago.
Hargadon said that Gaydon and the staff are committed to improving things.
“They’re committed to making things better,” said Hargadon. “There were problems there.”