Postal Service looking for new place to park permanent New Canaan post office
Published 2:33 pm, Wednesday, February 25, 2015
A year after moving out of its home of 50 years, the U.S. Postal Service has zeroed in on two potential sites, on Locust Avenue and Park Street, that meet its criteria for a new, permanent New Canaan post office.
But even with that process inching forward, exactly when a new post office will open is unclear, according to U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Christine Dugas.
"We would like to build a new permanent post office for New Canaan as soon as it is feasible," Dugas said. "The timeline won't be solid until we have made a final selection and know what we need to do to make it into a post office, but I can assure you we want to get it done as quickly as we can because we know how important this is to the town."
Unlike other sites that have been eliminated from consideration, the sites at 121 Park Street and 16-18 Locust Avenue provide enough room for a 300-square foot loading dock for mail trucks, a top criteria in the selection process, according to Dugas.
"The loading dock is essential to unload and pick up mail safely, which occurs several times a day," Dugas said.
In November, the postal service released a list of criteria. Among them: a permanent location should address pedestrian safety, have at least 3,000 square feet on one floor for mail processing, and parking for at least 15 vehicles.
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The New Canaan Post Office left its location of more than a half century last January to make way for Mrs. Green's Organic Market, and has been operating out of a temporary spot at 90 Main Street, which doesn't have a parking lot.
This week, First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said he hasn't spoken to the post office about the two sites and that the next step in the process will be for any submitted plans for the sites to be vetted by the Planning & Zoning Commission.
"Over the next week or two, when you talk to Planning & Zoning folks, you'll have a better sense of the viability of one or both of those projects," Mallozzi said. "Once that gets all fleshed out, it will be very clear to the post office the feelings of the town about those locations."
In the interest of capturing a broader range of opinion about a permanent location, Tucker Murphy, executive director of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce, said she is asking the postal service to hold a local meeting to garner input and the postal service will be accepting written comments on its proposals through a 30 day window that ends March 6.
"I just don't want this 30-day period to pass and have them make a decision on little input or input from a vocal minority," Murphy said. "I just want to make sure the people of New Canaan have an opportunity to be heard."
Asked whether on-site parking would be proposed as part of a final design for either site, Dugas said the postal service is flexible, but having enough spots nearby is critical based on the feedback of New Canaan customers.
"We want to ensure that we have enough parking for the New Canaan customers as we know how important this issue is to them," Dugas said.
The property at 121 Park Street is located next to Mrs. Green's Organic Market, and meets the most important criteria of having room for the loading dock and being safe for pedestrians, Anthony Giordano, principal of the ownership group for the property.
Customers would likely park in a nearby Pine Street municipal lot, Giordano said, which includes a mix of 90-minute parking and 15-minute spots.
"It is in virtually the same location the post office was for 50 years, which worked well for the public for a long time," Giordano said.
Asked to outline specifics of parking or other features of a proposed post office on the 16 to 18 Locust Street lot, Tim Brown, the owner of the property, declined comment about the proposal except to confirm he was in discussions with the postal service about a facility.
"Having lived in town for 60 years, the absence of a post office puts the town's people at a disadvantage and inconvenience," Brown said. "It has been reported that the post office is interested with the 18 Locust Avenue location as an option. The property was transferred to a new owner today, and there have been ongoing discussions with the post office. There are many moving parts to this process, and the hope is the post office will come to a resolve in the not too distant future."
The lack of dedicated parking for customers was an inconvenience at the old Pine Street location and sufficient paking would be welcome at a new facility, said Barbara Levine, owner of Chyten Educational Services on Elm Street.
"There needs to be more parking," Levine said. "I don't think it was ideal when it was on Pine Street because you had to find parking on the street which isn't always easy."
Despite any drawbacks residents might feel a potential site has, Murphy, who also is a member of the town council, said town leaders want a permanent location to be found that satisfies residents and the postal service.
"My take on this has not changed at all. I want them to move quickly when they finally do zero in on a location," Murphy said. "My fear is that, for whatever reason, if one or both of these sites don't work they'll say they tried and nothing worked. We have to stay engaged."
Residents can mail their comments about Locust Avenue and Park Street sites to Joseph Mulvey, U.S. Postal Service, 2 Congress St., Room 8, Milford, MA. 01757.