Archive for Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Local post office project put on hold

New building caught up in nationwide freeze; city officials pleased by delay

September 14, 2005

Plans to move the Tonganoxie post office to a site near U.S. Highway 24-40 have been put on hold -- for now.

In a recent letter to Mayor Dave Taylor from the U.S. Postal Service in Englewood, Colo., a post office official informed Taylor that an operational review is being conducted on all new postal service projects.

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The operating freeze comes amid extensive discussions in Tonganoxie about where the new post office should be built.

From four possible sites, the postal service picked a two-acre tract near the southeast corner of Laming Road and Woodfield Drive just north of the county annex. The site is north of U.S. 24-40.

During recent city council meetings, the city council and some citizens have voiced opposition to the proposed site. They prefer keeping the new post office near downtown, which is where the current post office operates on Fourth Street. That proposed site is 1.8 acres at the southwest corner of East Fourth Street and East Street (extended), which is two to three blocks from the Tonganoxie Fire Station, on the south side of Fourth.

The letter from the postal service was a response to the city's request that a postal service official address the council about what steered the postal service to the selected site near the highway.

Once the postal service's operational review is complete and the Tonganoxie project still is approved, postal service officials will set up a date to address the council, the letter went on to say.

Postmaster Ron Hubbard said he wasn't surprised that the postal service put a moratorium on new projects. He said it's happened occasionally in the past. Furthermore, Tonganoxie was scheduled for a building "some years ago."

"I can't say that it comes as a shock," Hubbard said. "These things happen all the time. I'm not surprised."

Hubbard said that Russ Rainey, postal service project manager, told him that during the past 20 years the postal service has put moratorium on spending "a couple times."

Hubbard said he wondered whether the moratorium had a connection to Hurricane Katrina, but in an e-mail Rainey told him "he didn't believe so."

Until the postal service lifts its operating freeze and decides whether it will build a new office in Tonganoxie, the post office will continue to move mail through its building at 526 E. Fourth.

"We're going to go with the flow," Hubbard said. "We don't have too many options at the local level because the money all comes form headquarters initially.

"If they decide they can't spend the money for whatever reason, we'll just go back into a holding pattern."

The delay comes as good news to some council members. After Monday's meeting, members reacted to the letter.

"I think people are real anxious to know that we've heard something and it sounds like now it's going to be in limbo," Velda Roberts said.

Jason Ward said the delay would be good for Tonganoxie.

"It also gives us more time to organize our thoughts and build a consensus within our city," Ward said.

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