CLAVERACK–The Mellenville Post Office needs to move and the Town Board heard last week from U. S. Postal Service representatives about what plans the agency has for the a new post office to serve the 12544 ZIP Code.
Kurtis Bullard, a USPS real estate specialist, and Project Manager Jim Kurbiel discussed the postal service efforts to find new land to lease. They also responded to questions and listened to comments from local residents.
“We come out to the public and hold a 30-day comment period for folks to come and … bring any concerns they may have about what we’re looking at doing in the town,” Mr. Bullard said at the beginning of the July 13 Town Board meeting.
The postal service is looking to leave its post office on Route 217 in Mellenville after efforts to negotiate a 10-year lease with the landlords went nowhere. “The lease that we have right now has been on a month-to-month since 1999. We can’t negotiate a long-term lease and we’re trying to look at our options,” he said.
Mr. Bullard explained that the postal service is looking for a lease that will give the USPS “more sustainability and more control.”
“What we’re doing right now is looking for land and what we’ll do is a ground lease. We have these modular units that we’ve been putting out and it’s a pretty good process. A lot of times, there are not a lot of retail locations that would suit what we’re trying to do,” said Mr. Bullard.
Specifically, the postal service is looking for about half an acre (20,000 square feet) so there would be enough room for a building and parking. The modular unit model is 480 square feet and postal officials are looking to have approximately four to six parking spaces, with one being for drivers with handicaps.
A Mellenville Post Office employee in attendance said that the office serves just under a hundred people.
Asked whether the post office would remain in Mellenville, Mr. Bullard said that the new post office would have to within the boundaries of the ZIP Code. Congress does not allow USPS to close a post office without congressional approval. Mr. Bullard said the postal service has previously faced similar challenges with this issue.
He also said that the postal service has remodeled existing structures before. That prompted suggestions from local residents that the officials consider using the former Mellenville Grange, which is close to the site of the existing post office.
Mr. Bullard said he and Mr. Kurbiel drove by that building and found it “beautiful,” but do not know whether it is available.
Mr. Kurbiel said that if the postal service were to take on the task of remodeling an existing building, they would have to modify their project, which is currently approved for the “contact facility” modular facility.
Claverack resident Ian Nitschke said that the Grange may be on the National Register of Historic Places. He went on to say that there may be money available through state or federal government sources.
Councilwoman Katie Cashen said that the people who own the Grange building were looking for people to raise money recently for needed repairs.
“It used to be where we voted, so it’s been used in the last seven years. We didn’t need as many voting spots but it’s a perfect size inside and there’s a little kitchen,” said Ms. Cashen.
Members of the audience and some board members expressed support for the idea of converting the Grange building to a post office.
“If that’s submitted as one of the opportunities, what we’ll do is have a formal site selection, whether we have one site or ten sites, and if the grange is offered, we’ll take a look at it,” said Mr. Kurbiel.
Other suggestions at the meeting for a new post office site included property behind the town office and the possibility that Coarc might have suitable property adjacent to its facility on Route 217.
Mr. Bullard said he will be the “conduit” for information from the public during the 30-day comment period by phone, letter or email regarding available land or related information. He said that after they find a good lease, we may see a new relocated post office within a year if plans go accordingly.
Written comments should be addressed to: Kurtis Bullard, Real Estate Specialist, United States Postal Service, P.O. Box 27497, Greensboro NC 27498-1103.