YOU WANT Romano on that?" is a common question asked customers at the Giulianova Groceria on East Main Street in Westminster. Soon the common query may be "You want it to go 'Priority'?"
The popular Italian deli has apparently won the bid to operate the only downtown post office in the Carroll County seat. Westminster has been without a central post office since last summer, when the old Main Street facility closed and operations were moved to a business park on the town's outskirts.
The U.S. Postal Service decision, after repeated delays over money, is a badly needed boost for Westminster. The downtown lost a planned $6 million office/parking complex this month when Carroll County Bank & Trust Co., developer of the project, was bought by a North Carolina bank, which immediately withdrew the plan. T. W. Mather & Sons, a landmark store on Main Street for a century, closed two years ago, another setback. Just this week, the county demanded that Westminster return the $50,000 given the city to build the canceled parking garage.
Main Street merchants worried that the loss of a post office diminished foot traffic. Whether this substation will be a magnet for people has yet to be proved. It will depend on the services, hours and parking convenience of the facility.
Details of the contract remain to be finalized, but the station is expected to do about $200,000 a year in postal business.
The Postal Service has chosen to close its historic but antiquated downtown post offices in favor of larger, modern facilities in outlying areas. The trend is, unfortunately, the antithesis of Smart Growth, but the Postal Service doesn't answer to the governor.
Meanwhile, the vacant brick post office downtown remains dormant. But the new postal plan to mix rolls of stamps with sub rolls at the deli is an appealing course for Westminster.