Dalton City Council member Tyree Goodlett says his mailbox has been struck twice since May. In all, it has been struck five times since the U.S. Postal Service turned that mailbox and approximately 50 others on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Fields Avenue so that the front of the mailbox now faces the street. Because those mailboxes are close to the street, they now stick out well past the curb.
"But what can I do?" Goodlett asked. "I have to receive my mail and they know this. And if I don't put it the way they want it I will not get my mail."
The mailboxes had previously faced parallel to the street. Goodlett grew up in the home he now lives in and says the mailbox had been parallel to the street for as long as he could remember.
Goodlett has asked U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, to look into the matter.
“My team is continuing to follow up with (the Postal Service) to determine why this occurred and whether or not proper procedures were followed," Graves said in an email. "The safety of Georgia residents should come first, so we're also exploring ways to prevent this from happening again in the future."
Dalton Assistant Public Works Director Andrew Parker said when the city was widening Fields Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard a few years ago it had to relocate the mailboxes.
"When we put them back, we put back new mailboxes, but we put them back just like they had been for decades," he said.
Parker said city officials are also concerned that some residents now have to step into the street to get their mail.
Shortly after the Postal Service moved the mailboxes, Susan W. Wright, a spokeswoman for the Postal Service, told a reporter the changes were made because of "safety concerns for our letter carriers."
"Mailboxes located (parallel) to the street do not allow for mail delivery without unnecessary maneuvers by the letter carrier," she said in an email. "Our policy is to avoid situations that require backing to protect our employees, customers and property, and is not specific to any one area."
Some city officials have asked the Postal Service why the mailboxes on King and Fields were moved, but mailboxes on some of the surrounding streets and at City Hall are allowed to remain parallel to the street.
"The city has not received clear guidance as to why the (Postal Service) mailbox standards were enforced solely within the limits of the Fields Avenue/M.L. King Jr. project and no other specific locations around the city," said Parker.
Goodlett says he also hasn't gotten a clear answer.
"As I drive around the city I have seen many, many other mailbox locations that are much more out of 'compliance' than the ones on MLK and Fields Avenue were," Goodlett said. "Just on one section of West Walnut there are four mailboxes that the mail carrier drives up in the residence's drive, almost to the front door, and delivers the mail. Two of these houses are new and the placement of the new mailboxes were done under the present postmaster."
When asked why the Postal Service had only moved mailboxes along King and Fields, Wright said, "We are currently examining delivery routes in Dalton and will address any safety hazards identified as soon as possible."