Archive for Wednesday, May 5, 2004

New post office on tap for Tonganoxie

May 5, 2004

For years, talk of a new post office has been a rumor.

Now it's a fact.

Pat Hanson, manager of 105 post offices in Kansas, said a new post office is in Tonganoxie's future.

"It's pretty possible that we could have a new building up and ready to move into within a year," Hanson said Friday afternoon.

She noted Tonganoxie had been in the running for a new post office for at least 10 years.

"But they finally got approval from our board of governors and have been approved to start the process this year," Hanson said.

The process begins with a site selection, which Hanson said is primarily handled out of the post office's facilities department in Denver.

After bids are received, the site review committee, which will consist of Hanson, Tonganoxie Postmaster Ron Hubbard and employees from the Denver office will visit each site.

Hanson said she thinks about two acres would be needed for the project. The new post office, she said, could wind up being three or four times the size of Tonganoxie's existing post office, which is 2,600 square feet.

"We look at the history of the town's growth and the potential for growth," Hanson said. "... As growth moves into the communities, obviously our mail volume and our routes -- the number of deliveries -- will go up. We usually try to build a building so that we know we have at least 10 years of growth within a building."

Adequate space will be needed for public and employee parking, drive-up mailboxes, route drivers' vehicles for carrying mail and large delivery trucks.

The existing post office is leased from a woman in Arkansas. Hanson said it's possible the post office could choose to lease the new building, as well.

"Most of the time what we do is a lease-own," Hanson said. "Somebody will build the post office for us and then we lease it back from them on a 99- or 50-year lease whatever it may be."

And sometimes, she said the postal service builds its own buildings, depending on the size of the project.

Work on a new post office in Louisburg, a city south of Olathe with a population of about 2,500, has progressed quickly, she said.

"Louisburg will open in June," Hanson said. "The site selection was probably six or seven months ago."

Hubbard said that at Tonganoxie's existing post office, which was built in 1962, space is fast becoming a rare commodity.

When Hubbard was appointed Tonganoxie postmaster in September 2002, there were four Tonganoxie mail routes.

Because of the increased number of customers, another route recently was added, and it might not be long until even one more route might be needed.

"We had room in here to come up with a fifth route, but we're going to be hard-pressed to come up with a sixth," Hubbard said.

Although Hubbard said he will have very little, if any, input in the selection of a new site, he said he would like to see the new post office located in or near the Fourth Street business district.

"We are in a good location for our business customers and for our residential customers," Hubbard said. "They usually look at sites that are close to the existing post office, but there's not much land downtown."

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