The U.S. Postal Service has closed its downtown Westminster post office, frustrating many customers who found themselves on the wrong side of a locked door, searching in vain for a familiar blue collection box.
All six of the mailboxes were removed from the Main Street site over the weekend as postal workers completed their move to a new facility in Englar Business Park.
"I couldn't understand why they took away the drive-through mailboxes," said Sonya Zito, a secretary at the local law firm of Jill Schlessinger Broumas who stopped by the post office this week to find it closed. "I used to drop off the office mail there on my way home from work. This week, I had to take the mail home with me."
Postal officials said they removed the boxes to let passers-by know that the post office had ceased operations at the downtown site. The replacement post office, a $2.7 million facility on Woodward Road, opened July 20.
"A post office is identified, partially, by the post boxes out front," said William Ridenou, manager of post office operations. "We removed the boxes so people would know, before they even got out of their cars, that the post office has moved."
Postal officials notified customers of the move several months before the new post office opened, hanging notices on the doors the old post office and leaving bright blue fliers in post office boxes.
The U.S. Postal Service planned to open the Englar Park facility last fall, but the opening was repeatedly delayed while the agency negotiated with the contractor to finish 245 incomplete items. The contractor, however, maintained that the building was finished. A new company was hired to complete the work in June.
Shortly before the new post office opened last month, postal officials listed the Main Street building with a national brokerage firm and agreed to continue retail service at the old post office for 30 to 60 days -- until the sorting operation and carriers could be moved to the new facility.
Those operations were moved over the weekend, and the old post office was closed.
The change prompted quite a few calls to City Hall from residents demanding to know why the Main Street post office closed before retail service was established at another downtown location.
Postal officials and R. Douglas Mathias, executive director of Greater Westminster Development Corp., are seeking proposals to operate a retail service on a contract basis. They have sought "reasonable bids" three times in the past year, but no agreement has been reached, postal officials said yesterday. Mathias could not be reached for comment.
"At this point, we're requesting that at least one mailbox be placed at City Hall and additional boxes at other downtown locations," said Thomas B. Beyard, the city's director of planning and public works.
Ridenou said the Postal Service has placed collection boxes at 6 W. Main St. and 117 E. Main St.
Pub Date: 8/28/98