Ho’olehua Post Office Temporarily Closed
By Catherine Cluett Pactol
Mail for Ho’olehua residents is being distributed out of a pop-up tent in the Kaunakakai Post Office parking lot after the Ho’olehua Post Office had to be vacated within hours last Tuesday due to structural concerns.
The Ho’olehua building, which served 450 mail customers, is now temporarily closed pending results from a structural assessment completed last Thursday, according to Duke Gonzales, a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service in Honolulu.
All Ho’olehua mail customers are now asked to pick up their mail in the back parking lot of the Kaunakakai Post Office between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., where Ho’olehua postmaster Roxanne Tancayo is set up under a tent, surrounded by stacked boxes and crates of mail.
“They called me on Tuesday afternoon and told me there was some concerns about the building and it was unsafe for my customers and employees and we had to get out of there as soon as possible,” said Tancayo on Friday. “So I had to spend the rest of the afternoon grabbing all the mail from the PO boxes, all the boxes and hauling it down here… This is our third day being outside.”
Tancayo said her customers shouldn’t go inside the Kaunakakai Post Office to pick up mail, but instead go directly to the back of the building and park their car to collect their mail. She said Ho’olehua’s mail is delivered directly to her in the parking lot when it arrives from the airport, and not sorted by Kaunakakai mail workers.
It remains to be seen how long Tancayo will be working out of the parking lot. Gonzales said he hopes the assessment results will be available early this week. If the Ho’olehua building is given the “all clear,” Tancayo said she’ll be able to return. If additional work is needed, she said the USPS will need to find another location for her to work.
“We’re just waiting on the results so I’m hoping that it’s good, I really want to go back to my home base,” she said.
The USPS is a lessee on the Ho’olehua property, located on Pu’upe’elua Ave. Gonzales said he couldn’t provide information about whether the landowner or the USPS would be responsible for any necessary repairs. His office declined to provide the name of the landowner, “citing privacy considerations,” but the Maui County Tax Map shows Dept. of Hawaiian Homelands own the property where the post office is located.
Gonzales said the structural concerns were “identified by a team of staffers from the Honolulu-based office that oversees neighbor island postal operations.”
“We apologize for the inconvenience caused by this temporary closure,” said USPS Manager of Post Office Operations Gary Logan. “We’ll provide an update on the status of this facility as soon as more information is available.”
In social media posts, some residents expressed concern about kupuna having to drive to town to pick up their mail, while others shared appreciation for postal workers working under all conditions to ensure residents can get their mail.
“We got the best postal workers here on Molokai,” wrote one resident. “No matter what is thrown their way, they always keep a big smile on their faces and does whatever needs to be done to make it through the day.”
Gonzales said the building assessment results will guide the rest of the process and determine how long the temporary closure may last.
“In the meantime, we are making every effort to minimize the impact of this closure on our Ho’olehua customers,” he said.