MOUNT AIRY — Postal officials have spent more than a year looking for a new home for the town's overburdened post office.
But because the search for a permanent site has had little success, officials have begun to look instead for temporary additional space for the Mount Airy post office.
"We need the space," Robert Novak, a spokesman with the U.S. Postal Service office in Baltimore, said of a temporary location for Mount Airy.
The search for temporary space marks a new approach in theeffort to solve the space crunch at the town's post office, Novak said.
Last summer, the postal service's Baltimore office announced it would accept proposals for potential sites for the relocation of the Mount Airy post office.
The postal service was hoping to find anexisting building, of about 9,000 square feet, that needed little orno modification.
But the service received no proposals for a suitable site, Novak said.
Meanwhile, increasing quantities of mail inundated the town's 3,200-square-foot post office, at 400 E. Ridgeville Blvd. in the Mount Airy Shopping Center.
During the 1980s, the population in Mount Airy roughly doubled, to about 4,000.
For the town's post office, from which 17 letter carriers work, that means about 30,000 pieces of mail a day, Novak said.
But the mail doesn't get a chance to pile up, said Mount Airy Postmaster Eileen Hart.
"We don't have any place to put it," she said.
The office serves residents in and around Mount Airy, other parts of Carroll County and parts of Frederick, Howard and Montgomery counties, said Hart.
"There are new people moving into the area all the time," the postmaster said. "And one of the first things they want is their mail."
An important factor in the search for a new location is economics, Novak said.
Government spending at all levels has been significantly reduced in the wake of the recession, and the Baltimore division of the postal service isn't sure what's in store for new capital projects, he said.
The postal service's budget for the coming fiscal year -- which begins Oct. 1 -- is due from its headquarters in Philadelphia at the end of September, Novak said.
And an allocation for a new Mount Airy post office may not be part of the budget package.
"We're sort of waiting to see what our budget will allow," Novak said.
If a new location is not in the offing, postal officials wanted to get the search for temporary extra space for the Mount Airy location well under way before the budget is handed down, he said.