In Carroll County, the U.S. Postal Service is about to start construction on a new post office for Sykesville but has delayed opening the one recently built in Westminster.
Postal officials attribute the delay in Westminster to technical difficulties, saying they "are diligently working to address" the problems.
Construction could begin in Sykesville by mid-July. A freshly dug hole in the Eldersburg Business Park had residents speculating that work had begun, but that excavation is for a warehouse.
The Merritt Co., owner of the business park, is building a 42,000-square-foot, one-story warehouse and office complex on the 4.8 acres adjoining the post office site.
"This is another Merritt warehouse facility," said Bruce R. Waldron, county development review coordinator.
After months of negotiating, the Postal Service settled on the 3-acre site at Progress Way and Route 32 in Eldersburg last year.
The current Sykesville post office is considered overcrowded and inadequate to handle the volume of mail in the county's most populous area of 28,000 residents. A new building, four times the size of the old one, cannot come too soon, according to employees and patrons.
Postal officials said last week that they are seeking design bids and are giving contractors about a month to respond.
Construction is expected to start by mid-July on a $3 million, 22,000-square-foot building, which will serve the 21784 ZIP code, including Sykesville and Eldersburg. It is expected to open in about a year.
Still unresolved is the issue of a traffic signal for Progress Way and Route 32. Development in the business park and its #F surroundings will determine the need for a signal, which would be the fourth in a one-mile stretch of the highway from Route 26.
The State Highway Administration has traffic estimates that determined the need for a signal, which will not be constructed until all development is completed, state officials said. The signal is expected to cost about $120,000 and would be paid for by the developer.
A few hundred yards south of the post office, a developer is planning a $30 million shopping and theater complex and has promised several improvements to Route 32.
In Westminster, construction of a post office similar in size and cost is complete, but the building on Woodward Road, between Routes 27 and 140 in the Englar Business Park, remains closed.
"We are working diligently to make sure the building is up to our [specifications] so that it is a nice place for our patrons," said Helen Skillman, spokeswoman for the Baltimore District of the Postal Service.
Charles J. Frank, contractor for the Westminster post office, said the building was completed in October and received use and occupancy permits. Westminster is the third post office that Frank's company, based in Hunt Valley, has built recently.
Severna Park and Havre de Grace facilities opened without a problem, he said, and he plans to bid on the Sykesville building. He could not explain the delayed opening in Westminster.
'Ready since October'
"Westminster has been ready for occupancy since October," Frank said. "They just don't seem to want it."
Frank says postal officials have withheld payment of the final 5 percent of his costs.
"I have not been completely paid and have had to turn the matter over to an attorney," Frank said.
Pub Date: 5/26/98