LOCUST GAP - Cluster boxes will be used for mail delivery in this small village in Mount Carmel Township.

Robert Varano, manager of operations programs for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), told The News-Item Friday the decision has been made to install cluster box units (CBUs) for mail delivery.

"After meeting with the township officials and our committee of residents, we have found the CBUs are the most efficient way to deliver the mail," Varano said.

Mount Carmel Postmaster Curt Evert has ordered 160 boxes for the village and they will be installed at two locations: on Railroad Street near centerfield of the Locust Gap Ballfield and on the opposite side of the highway at the intersection of Maple and Fig streets.

Varano expects the boxes will be in place in three weeks.

"We currently have the proposal to pour the concrete pads out on bid now, so once we select a contractor, we will get to work on it and return mail delivery to Locust Gap," Varano said.

Broken pipe

The decision to add the CBUs - free-standing, pedestal-mounted mailboxes containing 8, 12, 13, or 16 individually locked mailboxes and parcel compartments - was made four months after the Locust Gap Post Office, 274 Main St., closed its doors Jan. 24 when a frozen water pipe burst and damaged the building.

Officials announced the post office would not reopen after the building's owner, Ed Sebastian, opted not to renew the lease with USPS.

Since the post office closed, Locust Gap residents had to travel to Mount Carmel in order to pick up their mail.

In March, Varano, Evert and USPS manager of post office operations Andrea Caraciolo met with about 40 Locust Gap residents to discuss which options were being discussed.

Caraciolo said the two options open were the CBUs and curbside delivery. Door-to-door delivery, they said, was not an option.

"As a policy, the U.S. Postal Service does not offer door-to-door delivery," Varano said at the meeting.

In March, a committee of three residents was picked to discuss the matter with the USPS. Varano said a delivery specialist toured the area recently and recommended CBUs.