Archive for Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Post office officially seeking new site

February 16, 2005

It's official.

After years of rumors circulating, the Tonganoxie Post Office is looking for a larger home.

And it won't be at its downtown location.

"Unless something really extraordinary happens, we should get you a new post office," Russ Rainey, a Denver real estate specialist for the U.S. Postal Service, told Tonganoxie City Council members Monday night.

The postal service has three options: expand at the existing site in the heart of downtown; lease an existing building; or build a new one.

Expanding at the existing site "is not a viable option, given its physical constraints on Fourth Street," Rainey said. "The realities are that we are not going to expand the existing facility."

Rainey is looking for a new building that's just over 5,000 square feet, on a site that's about 1.25 acres, in an area bounded by Parallel Road on the north, Kansas Avenue on the south, 206th Street on the east and 222nd Street on the west.

The new building would be more than twice the size of the existing post office, which measures 2,100 square feet.

"If you know of somebody who has a site, we encourage them to offer it to us," Rainey said.

After the postal service has received offers, Rainey said a site selection committee will make a decision.

"If there is no adverse response to what we've told you was offered, we'll pursue the selected site," he said.

Throughout the process, Rainey promised, he would keep the public informed of progress.

"To quote a former president, we're trying to be a kinder, gentler postal service," he said.

Tonganoxie Postmaster Ron Hubbard said the existing post office, which was built in 1962, is a victim of growth. When Hubbard was appointed Tonganoxie postmaster in September 2002, there were four Tonganoxie mail routes. Because of an increase in customers, Tonganoxie currently has five routes. And another may be on the way.

"I'm afraid so," Hubbard said Tuesday. "It may not be until 2006, but we're not too far from adding another one."

If all goes well, a site could be selected in the next three months or so, with construction starting this fall. Hubbard estimated it would be another 18 months before the post office's 12 full- and part-time employees would move.

As for customers, Hubbard wants to minimize the impact on customers.

"The routes probably won't change much," he said.

One group that might see a major change is the downtown business district. Most downtown businesses have post office boxes, and if the post office moves from the downtown area, those business owners and employees probably won't walk to retrieve mail from boxes. And they likely won't qualify for delivery because there's no place to erect curbside boxes outside downtown businesses.

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