Lake Linganore residents are going postal — over problems with their mail service.
Packages and letters seem to regularly go missing, and neighbors have taken on the task of redelivering mail with sometimes critical contents to its rightful recipient.
Some residents in the community have been working for months with federal lawmakers and the U.S. Postal Service to improve service. With two community meetings already canceled by the Postal Service, a third is planned for next week.
U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin’s office has been involved in coordinating a meeting where residents can voice their concerns.
Tiger Waddell, who lives in the Pinehurst area, has been keeping a tally of misdeliveries in her neighborhood since September.
There were 448 delivery problems between September and April, according to Waddell’s tally, culled from an active community Facebook page and the neighborhood social media site Nextdoor.
Waddell said she started tracking issues after noticing in the fall of 2016 that the community’s Facebook page was attracting quite a few posts about mail delivery problems.
In December — with holiday letters and packages filling mail trucks and mailboxes — Waddell said the neighborhood’s tally of mail problems crossed 100. She called then-Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-8th, for help.
“Residents are receiving mail with the wrong name, number street, city and zip,” Waddell said in an email. “That would seem to be more than a slight oversight.”
Things improved in January and February, when the area was served by a temporary acting postmaster, but the problems have started to increase again, Waddell said.
She tallied 70 delivery complaints in Pinehurst in April.
Some problems last month include tax information that was misdelivered, she said.
While Waddell tracks information only for Pinehurst, residents in other Lake Linganore villages have reported problems as well.
Roya Dapkus lives in the Aspen village of Linganore. Letters to her husband from the hospital and the Federal Aviation Administration were misdelivered. A pair of iPhone chargers her family ordered recently were delivered to a community 8 miles away, and Dapkus got a piece of a neighbor’s mail on Wednesday.
It’s an infuriating problem, Dapkus said.
“Getting your mail is one of the most personal and private things,” Dapkus said.
Dapkus and Waddell said the perception in the community is that the Postal Service is dodging the issue.
The U.S. Postal Service canceled two meetings with the community in April.
A third attempt at a meeting — which Dapkus lamented is now timed to conflict with office hours and school pickup — is being called a “Meet and Greet” at the post office building in New Market on May 11 at 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Kathleen Connor from Raskin’s office helped pass constituent concerns to a regional postal supervisor.
“I think the constituents have valid concerns. We want to work with them and we want to work with the post office to have them addressed,” Connor said.
Freda Sauter, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service, declined to answer specific questions about concerns in the Lake Linganore area, but forwarded a general statement about how residents can lodge complaints. Her message was similar to a letter that New Market Postmaster Robin Moore sent to residents through the Lake Linganore Association in late March.
There are five different routes that serve different parts of Lake Linganore, each with different carriers, Moore wrote.
She asked residents to clear out their mailboxes regularly to allow space for new deliveries, which could help pinpoint issues. Moore wrote that with five routes and scheduled and unscheduled leave, very specific details are needed to track the source of any problem.
“Please do not deliver this mail yourself as to my carrier will not know they made an error and cannot correct their mistake if they do not know they are making them,” Moore wrote. “Putting it on Facebook will not correct the error either. David or I will come to your house and collect the miss-delivered mail so that we can then bring the correct carrier in so that the mistake can be corrected.”
Moore’s letter also offered a phone number to check package tracking, and a phone number to report misdeliveries. Reached by phone, Moore referred media questions to a spokeswoman.
Sauter and others did not provide statistics about mail delivery problems or insight into whether delivery issues in Lake Linganore are more substantial than typical error rates. Slower delivery rates have been documented nationwide after the Postal Service was significantly downsized in 2015.
Dapkus, Waddell and others plan to attend next week’s meeting at the post office, but instead of a meet-and-greet, they want a serious meeting.
Dapkus said she’ll have one message for postal representatives: “We need to hear from you, very strongly, about what steps have been taken to fix this,” she said.
“We just want our mail. We want our bills. We just want our mail accurately,” Dapkus said.