After years of delay, the one-room post office soon will go the way of the one-room schoolhouse in Lisbon. Work began Monday on a new, 1,400-square-foot facility at the corner of Frederick Road and Hopkins Alley, two doors east of the current post office.
The project has been in a holding pattern for three years while it was re-evaluated, along with all other Postal Service construction proposals.
Some patrons may miss the 80-year-old building that has served as the post office since the late 1950s, but Postmaster David Yontz said he could use a little elbow room.
"After nine years, coziness goes out the window," he said. "It's a constant daily battle to avoid tripping over the outgoing mail that is waiting to be expedited."
Mr. Yontz said he is looking forward to having a place to hang mailbags. "We don't have enough space for racks, so they're sitting on the floor," he said.
The new facility will have room for all that plus a place to sort mail and 548 post office boxes -- up from zero in the old building.
The two-story, stone-foundation building was built of now-rare chestnut wood and has been used as a milk depot, a tack shop and a fire station, said its owner, David Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins runs a restaurant waffle iron and waffle mix supply business from the second floor and plans to expand downstairs after the post office moves out.
The new post office will have 5,540-square-feet of parking to solve another of the old building's problems. "It's had very
limited parking because it nestles right on Route 144," Mr. Yontz said. "Getting in and out of the post office always has been hazardous."
More than 120 homes and businesses pick up and drop off their mail at the general delivery post office, which also sells stamps and handles bulk mailings for an area of about 3,000 people.
The new facility will handle those jobs and take on a new responsibility, housing rural delivery operations for Cooksville, said Al Fowler, manager of postal operations for Western Maryland.
Cooksville's post office was closed several years ago with the intent of consolidating its operations in Lisbon.
Since then, delivery for the Cooksville ZIP code has been handled out of the Glenwood Post Office.
Following common practice, the postal service will not own the ++ new building but rent it.
The $200,000 building's owner, Frall Developers Inc., of Mount Airy, owns 126 post offices in 11 states, said company Vice President Dawn Bowman.
The building will be more costly than other facilities because it is small compared to other new post offices, and because Lisbon's poor-quality ground water needs special treatment, she said.
The building is expected to be complete by October, depending on the weather, Ms. Bowman said.
The company has agreed to lease it to the Postal Service for $14,052 a year for 15 years, with an option to continue for $H another 15 years.