USPS rep to explain Dover Post Office relocation

DOVER — There haven’t been many details available regarding the relocation of the Dover Post Office since Dover Mayor Robin R. Christiansen received a letter from the U.S. Postal Service announcing its intention of moving.

That will change at the Dover City Council meeting Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall at 15 Loockerman Plaza.

A Postal Service representative will make a presentation explaining why it is planning to vacate the city’s landmark 55 Loockerman Plaza location after a stay of five decades.

At the public meeting, the USPS said it “will identify the need, identify the tentative decision to relocate retail services, outline the proposal to meet the need for relocation, invite questions, solicit written input on the proposal, and provide an address to which the community and local officials may send written appeals of the tentative decision and comments on the proposal for a period of 30 days following the public meeting.”

Two things appear to be certain among city and USPS officials – there is a definite need for a new post office and it should be built near its current location downtown.

Mayor Christiansen believes the city will be best served by making moving it somewhere in the downtown area, where it has remained during four different location shifts through the years.

“Traditionally my preference as an individual and in a historical sense is to continue to have a post office presence in the downtown area,” the mayor said. “That way it can continue to be an economic driver by bringing people into the area with the plan to make it convenient for them to do business there and meet their needs.”

When the post office settled into the current facility on city-owned land in 1964, the mayor said it was built to last five decades, which have now passed. The current lease expires in 2020.

City Councilman Matt Lindell, who represents the 1st District, said it’s time for a new post office.

“While it was the U.S. Postal Service who decided not to renew the lease, I think it is a good time for a new post office in the city,” he said. “Since 1964, the post office has been at its current location and much has changed over the past 50-plus years.

“I am aware of issues with parking; however, while I am not sure of their functional needs for a building, I imagine that the changing demands of the 21st century consumer — increases in online shopping and package delivery — are putting significant strain on a post office building that has served Dover well for the past 50 years. “

City Councilmen Lindell and Fred Neil, who represents the 3rd District, are also both on board with keeping the Dover Post Office in a central location downtown.

Councilman Neil said the relocation of the post office could put other things into motion for the city of Dover, such as possibly building a parking garage or a new City Hall on the post office’s current site.

“I would prefer a downtown location to draw people to the revitalized area we are creating, which the post office would be a significant part,” Mr. Neil said. “I believe the City Administration is working with post office officials as we seek a location for a parking garage and a new City Hall or Municipal Complex.

“Both the Reed Street building and City Hall are no longer efficient and are costly to repair. Funds have been provided in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget for engineering and architectural planning. Nothing will occur before public hearings are held as their input is important.”

Councilman Lindell said he agrees that it’s important to keep the post office downtown.

“I would like to see it remain near the downtown area. I think whatever location is chosen it should be a location that has multiple points of access and egress within Dover,” Mr. Lindell said, “especially when one considers the fact that many constituents within the city rely on use of P.O. Boxes and many of our businesses rely on the close proximity of the post office to send their certified mail and access other services that the U.S. Postal Service provides.”

In his letter to Mayor Christiansen, Richard Hancock, a real estate specialist with the USPS, wrote, “The Postal Service is relocating because the current lease cannot be renewed. The ‘relocation project’ will consist of procuring a suitable substitute location, preparing the new location for use as a post office and then transitioning the retail services to the new location.”

The entire relocation process could take up a couple of years to complete.

Mr. Hancock’s letter also said, regarding Monday’s presentation, “Because the proposal concerns relocation, we also will: (1) discuss the reasons for relocating; (2) identify the site or area, or both, to which the Postal Service anticipates relocating the retail services; and (3) describe the anticipated size of the retail service facility for the relocated retail services, and the anticipated services to be offered at the new location.”

According to the USPS, “If the relocation is approved, there will be no changes to mail delivery, customers’ addresses or Post Office Boxes as a result of this relocation.”

The USPS said written comments on the proposal will be accepted for 30 days after the meeting date and submitted to:
Richard Hancock, Real Estate Specialist, United States Postal Service, Facilities Service Office, PO Box 27497, Greensboro, NC 27498-1103 or email to richard.a.hancock2@usps.gov.

Councilman Neil said the process of replacing old structures reminds him of a long time ago.

“As for the need to replace these worn-out buildings, it reminds me of driving my favorite car when I graduated college, which was a long, long time ago,” he said. “It was less expensive and more functional to buy a new car than to keep repairing the old one.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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