Offer of free Clarksville property may not bring back post office

The future of a Clarksville post office location remains unclear, despite an offer from Howard County of rent-free property at the Gateway school site on Route 108.

Postal officials are evaluating the proposal, said Freda Sauter, spokeswoman for the Postal Service's Baltimore district, which includes most of Maryland. She could not give a time frame for when a decision would be made. Operations have been merged with the Ellicott City branch about 11 miles away.

Howard County has offered a 7.8-acre parcel at 12240 Route 108, near Great Star Drive, under a zero-dollar ground lease for at least two years, according to a news release from County Executive Ken Ulman's office.

Operations moved to the Ellicott City post office after the owners of the property on Auto Drive decided not to renew the lease that expired Aug. 12 due to uncertainty over the neighboring Gateway site development.

The site was slated to become the mixed-use Clarksville Commons development with offices, a hotel and stores, but the project stalled when the developers, GreenStone Ventures, terminated the contract, in part because of disputes over road access.

In addition to returning the facility to Clarksville, the postal service would have to erect another building or a temporary structure for the site.

The county had paid $259,000 to demolish the vacant brick school building.

Several Clarksville residents raised concerns at a planning board meeting Aug. 4 that the new development's driveway access would affect neighboring businesses, which include the post office, Kendall Hardware and the owners of the Pizza Hut and surrounding property.

"Unfortunately, the USPS and the private landlord couldn't come to an agreement on lease renewal at the current site," Ulman said in a statement announcing the land offer. "We all know these are tough times for the USPS, and I wanted to offer an inexpensive alternative to help keep this invaluable and convenient resource open to serve our residents."

The postal service announced last month that it was considering closing up to 3,700 locations, most in rural areas, but Clarksville was not on the list.

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