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New Canaan Post Office likely moving into a trailer

Updated 11:00 am, Saturday, November 30, 2013
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The search for a new permanent location is almost over, but the New Canaan Post Office likely will have to operate from a trailer for a few months.

That's what CBRE Executive Vice President Paul King, a realtor who's helping the post office find a new location, said. King said he believes the post office would agree on one of two spaces -- 215 Elm St. or 19 Vitti St. -- within two weeks. Regardless, it would take "roughly three or four months" to rehabilitate a space, he said.

"I firmly believe they're going to be in a trailer for at least three months," King said.

Even though, First Selectman Robert Mallozzi confirmed the search for a permanent spot was down to two locations and a deal was close, U.S. Postal Service spokesman Melissa Lohnes said the post office was still reviewing possible new sites in New Canaan.

Lohnes did confirm, however, that a trailer is likely to be the post office's new home for a few months.

"In some locations, when we have a lost lease, we have decided to suspend operations in that community," she said. "However, our commitment to New Canaan is strong and the use of a trailer, as a placeholder to continue full postal retail operations, is one measure of that commitment."

The lease for the post office site at 2 Pine St. was not renewed and ends Jan. 31. The post office has been on the corner of Pine and Park streets for more than 50 years.

Residents have wondered if they would have to start going to Stamford for their postal service needs. But Joe Mulvey, the real estate specialist for the postal service, has said the post office would not leave New Canaan.

Mrs. Green's Natural Market, an organic grocer, has already signed a lease with Elm Street Partners and is scheduled to move in by February.

After the post office finds a new permanent site, there will be a variety of factors to be considered so the space is ready to accommodate the post office.

"These include factors such as foot traffic, number of rented post office boxes, and ability to provide appropriate work space and security for our operations," Lohnes said. "Our negotiations for a site may also include factors such as the willingness of a new landlord to provide modifications or regular maintenance to a location as well as fair market pricing for our needs."

Other factors include the space's loading and parking capacities, insurance needs and water availability.

Parking the trailer on the new space would be a temporary solution, but there's still some concern about whether the trailer would be in the way of the renovations. So the post office has been looking into renting another space just for the trailer, such as outside a church or a grocery store, King said. Such a space would also have to meet government workplace requirements.

King said the Vitti Street location would be an ideal permanent location, but the one on Elm Street could also be accommodated.

James Buckner, a retired New Canaan resident who goes to the post office about three times a week, said he doesn't mind that the post office is moving as long as the new space is similar or better than the current one.

"My two requirements are parking and proximity," he said.

New Canaan native Lydia Lord said she understands why residents are concerned with the relocation but she said she would not be affected at all. She said most of the service offered by the post office can also be done online these days.

"It's sad that it's going away, but I really don't care. I just come here for stamps," Lord said.

Fran Snelwar, another resident, said she goes to the post office once a week and would prefer it to stay in the downtown area. She said she would not mind going to a trailer for a few months.

"I think we're all sad the post office is leaving" its current site, she said. "No one wants it to be in a trailer, but we should do anything to get us a permanent location."

noliveira@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6582; @olivnelson