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Upton Reviewing Mailbox Damage Policy

Next winter, the town of Upton may have a new mailbox damage policy in place. The discussion to change the current policy took place during a Board of Selectmen's meeting on February 15.

According to Town Manager Blythe Robinson, approximately 20 complaints from residents have been reported to the Department of Public Works concerning damaged mailboxes this winter.

The current policy states that if a Town vehicle is found responsible for damaging the mailbox, the Town will replace it with a metal box that is approved by the Postal Service. If necessary, the post will be replaced with a pressure-treated one. Highway Department personnel must also install the new mailboxes.

The cost for the new post and the box totals $40, plus an estimated $40 per hour for two Public Works employees to mount the new mailbox.

The downside to the current policy is the amount of time Highway Department staff spends installing the new mailboxes thus, taking time away from their other work responsibilities.

Robinson asked if the Board might want to consider revising the policy to state that if a mailbox is hit by a town snowplow, the owner will be reimbursed an amount not to exceed $40; $20 for the post and $20 for the mailbox. Any amount over the $40 would need to be paid for by the owner.

The positives to the new policy are that residents would be allowed to choose their own mailbox. In addition, Highway Department personnel would not be responsible for setting up the new mailboxes and therefore able to concentrate on other areas of work. However, a downside to this is the fact that not all residents may be able to install their own mailboxes.

Selectman Chair Michael Goodwin agreed that revising the current policy was a good idea but requested an additional change to state that the reimbursement rates be reviewed each year. Goodwin added that the current policy is a "credit to the small-town nature of Upton's Highway Department," but the town has since outgrown it.

Selectman Robert Fleming added that it would be beneficial to find a volunteer group, such as the Boy Scouts, who could assist those citizens unable to physically replace their own mailboxes. He also suggested it could be part of the senior work off abatement program.

Robinson said she would add the Board members' comments to the new policy which will be reviewed again during their next meeting.


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