Any change in post office site would follow community input
For quite some time, the rumor that the Tonganoxie Post Office is moving has circulated.
Wanda Hooks, customer service coordinator for the U.S. Postal Service, Kansas City, Mo., says there is truth to the longstanding tale.
"It's not completely a rumor," Hooks said. "It has been agreed that Tonganoxie will get a new post office."
However, Hooks said, everything is in the beginning stages.
"There is a process that has to take place," she said. "And it's a minimum of two years away."
According to Hooks, this is the protocol: Now that a 10-year growth study has been completed, the next step would be to meet with the mayor.
"After that there should be a couple of community meetings where the community will have a chance to speak out, and they usually allow at least six weeks for that," Hook said.
Then the post office would advertise for a site.
"After a site is chosen, they will have to advertise for a construction company," Hooks said. "And this takes time."
Tonganoxie Mayor John Franiuk said he thinks, for the convenience of city residents, that a new post office should remain in the downtown area.
One possible area, he said, might be at the east end of Fourth Street, near Pleasant Street.
"But it couldn't happen without doing some demolition, possibly in the area near the old railroad tracks," Franiuk said. "We're really kind of landlocked."
Franiuk said another possibility might be that the post office could move to the south side of town.
"I would almost like to see us looking at expansion of the south side of Tonganoxie along the Washington Street corridor," Franiuk said. "But I don't think it's readily available to us at this time."
But overall, so residents wouldn't have to cross highways to get to the post office, Franiuk said he prefers a downtown site.
Janice Rake, local postmaster, said the current post office, built in 1962 at 524 E. Fourth, is 2,611 square feet in size.
"This one's too small," Rake said. "Our new building will be bigger."
Franiuk said he asked Rake about the possibility of adding a second story to the post office.
"But she said they needed square footage, but that they don't need up and down," he said.
Rake, who has been Tonganoxie postmaster since 1987, estimated a new post office would require at least 5,000 square feet to accommodate Tonganoxie's growing needs.
The current post office is owned by an individual and leased to the U.S. Postal Service.
Rake said two years remain on the lease.
But whatever happens isn't likely to occur right away, Franiuk said.
"My guess is, even though they're planning and talking about a new post office, it could be as far away as seven years," he said.