Local residents speak out on post office
Several Tonganoxie area residents who attended Monday's city council meeting were present for one reason -- to discuss the proposed post office site north of U.S. Highway 24-40 near Laming and Woodfield roads.
Resident Gene Heskett addressed the council first, expressing his disapproval for the highway site rather than an East Fourth Street site a few blocks from the existing post office.
"The post office has always been the anchor of downtown," Heskett said. "You move the post office out here on the highway, you're going to destroy Fourth Street. You might as well pack up all the businesses and move it to the highway.
"Plus, it's going to be dangerous there on the highway. It's already dangerous out there."
Heskett's words triggered a loud round of applause.
Although no United States Postal Service representatives could attend the meeting, residents still have until Sept. 2 to write to the USPS with their comments on the new post office site.
Darlyn Hansen, whose words also led to applause at the council meeting, asked the council whether post office officials had done enough research on the East Fourth Street site.
City Administrator Mike Yanez had a phone conversation on Aug. 17 with USPS project manager Russ Rainey. Rainey told Yanez that the East Fourth Street near East Street (extended) site wasn't feasible because estimated construction costs would be the highest of any of four potential Tonganoxie sites the post office was considering. In addition, Rainey said the Fourth Street site was on or near a Federal Emergency Management Agency-recognized flood plain and development costs would be higher to develop a flood plain. Rainey also noted the site once was a concrete plant, which raised environmental and soil-quality concerns.
"I'd like to see reasons why they can't address those things," Hansen said. "I would like soil samples be done. Again, they're giving all the reason why they can't do something."
Mayor Dave Taylor said he researched the Fourth Street site and found that a concrete plant never existed on the site. He also didn't think the site was on a flood plain.
"I know the post office (representatives) are not here, but I think they'll get the message," Taylor said. "We want to keep it on Fourth Street.
"We will fight to keep it downtown. Maybe it's not political-correctness or whatever, but I want it downtown."
Lynn McClure, Leavenworth Area Development executive director, said he's seen new post offices being constructed in other communities.
"As an economic developer whose worked in the metro area, their decisions are not ones about what works for your community, but what works for theirs," McClure said.
An alternative to consider, McClure said, would be having a post office storefront downtown where stamps could be purchased and items mailed while still having the main site on 24-40.
"Every option should be considered," McClure said.
Although the Laming Road and East Fourth Street sites have been at the forefront of post office discussions, two others also were considered:
- 1.5 acres near the southwest corner of Laming Road and Leavenworth County Road 5 (near Stack 'N' Stuff storage).
- 1.15 acres southwest of U.S. Highway 24-40 and Fourth Street (Kansas Highway 16), just south of the abandoned gasoline station.
The Laming Road site would measure 2.042 acres, while the East Fourth Street site includes 1.8 acres of land.