Drive-up mailbox may need GPS coordinates
Author Garry Wills: “Restraint deepens passion by refusing to give it easy vent.” Oh where oh where has our mailbox gone? Treasure hunt behind Northbrook Village Hall? Note Freedom Park.| Karie Angell Luc~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 3, 2012 12:53PM
Looking for the new Northbrook drive-up blue U.S. Postal Service mailbox?
You might need GPS Lost in Space coordinates.
Not every motorist knows where to find the new downtown drive-up mailbox which replaced the walk-up version last month in front of Northbrook Village Hall.
The website, www.mailboxmap.com/, even with its supercute mailbox icon (marking 1225 Cedar Lane, Village Hall), suggests no drive-by speedy delivery service.
Tucked next to the postage-free green municipal drive-up box behind Village Hall, Northbrook’s newest drive-up blue mailbox is within flood plain shouting distance of the famous Ferris Bueller water tower.
Forget “Save Ferris,” maybe Northbrook Public Works should paint Bozo’s Circus Grand Prize Game magic arrows with “Save Postage!” to point eyeballs downward.
Said Jay Pollak, Northbrook attorney for Jay Heitman, owner of Northbrook Meadow Plaza (where the drive-up mailbox was formerly located): “Somebody told me about that (new drive-up mailbox). “And I thought to myself, ‘Well, what a dumb thing to do, nobody knows where it is.’”
Its sudden Meadow Plaza removal (last year by post office) prompted three Snapshot columns this spring, spurring Internet shouting and verbal traffic.
Replied Northbrook Village President Sandy Frum with a laugh: “It’s the location that we came up with that made sense that we had control over.”
The train station parking lot was nixed due to traffic flow.
“The village heard from people they really missed having that drive-up facility,” confirmed David Schoon, assistant director/economic development coordinator.
The village approached Ronald Weddington, Northbrook Post Office postmaster, after a Heitman lease agreement request failed.
Of a written postal agreement with the village: “I would be astounded if there was, (also an escrow repair fund),” Pollak said. “Try(ing) to get the United States Post Office into a lease (is) like pulling teeth.”
Frum was not aware of a village/postal legal agreement.
“We have our own drop-off (green box) anyway, it just sort of fits in our normal repair cycle.”
Heitman, who spent about $5,000 in asphalt repairs, sought (postal service) monetary relief and land claim prevention legalese.
As of July 26, Meadow Plaza rainwater beautifully reflected the Ferris Bueller tower via a pothole lake manmade by churning tires.
“That’s not real convenient over there,” said Pollak, of Village Hall’s rear parking lot.
“But something is better than nothing. If you get a piece of the pie, it’s better than none.”
Of the brouhaha, said Sean Hargadon, U.S. Postal Northern Illinois spokesperson: “It’s been interesting.”
An April 10 Snapshot column urged readers “to stuff the Northbrook Post Office with “Save Our Downtown Drive-Up Mailbox” letters (via snail) mail.”
Weddington received three letters and no phone calls, said Hargadon, adding the postmaster was “very much aware of the (Northbrook Star) stories that ran.”
Pioneer Press did receive phone calls, including messages left by Heitman.
“I’d like to not be portrayed as the bad guy to the world,” said Heitman last spring.
The Snapshot columns “made him (Heitman) look like a jerk,” said Pollak in April. “He’s a corporate citizen and he’s a damn good one.”
Of the new drive-up mailbox, longtime Northbrook resident Marcia Dunn said: “I never thought we would get a mailbox in town. Hurrah!
“This is perfect, no more driving all the way to (2460) Dundee Road (main post office),” said Dunn, thanking Pioneer Press for “bringing the drive-by mailbox to the attention of the powers that be.”
“I appreciate the in-town post office which I use frequently, but parking is always a factor especially in poor weather.”
One concern raised by the mailbox fiasco remains unresolved — complaints of motorists exiting still-running cars to use the 1157 Church St. post office storefront mailbox at Northbrook Shopping Plaza.
“That’s a shopping center issue,” said Frum. “The developers of the (Wilmette Terraco Property Management) shopping center need to address that.”
While Northbrook Shopping Plaza has yellow pylons, no similar barriers protected Freedom Park’s war memorial behind the former Village Hall walk-up mailbox where Cedar Lane motorists have exited operating vehicles (leaving the driver’s side door open) to mail letters.
“That is an interesting question,” said Frum, of building code changes.
“But what about pylons in front of all the schools? What about pylons in front of the Village Green? I don’t know what the answer is,” she added.
The Northbrook Dairy Queen is among storefronts which experienced motorist drive-ins. In recent years, a car gutted a Skokie Blvd. optical shop where customers had just selected eyeglass frames.
“It’s something that we can look at, of course,” said Frum, of village-wide pylon retrofits/requirements. “It would really need to be studied.”
Until then, keep looking up at a water tower or downtown for the drive-up mailbox.
Look (and pray) for pylons too.
“I’m glad,” said Pollak, “the community has a place to go (where they don’t have to) get outside of their car.”