Post office resurrects building plan Facility would open by 1998 on 2 1/2 acres in Englar complex

'I feel very optimistic'

Approval is possible in 30 to 60 days

funds seen in place

January 26, 1996|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Westminster appears likely to get a new post office by 1998 -- a decade after federal budget cuts deferred the move.

The U.S. Postal Service's plan to build a new post office on 2.5 acres in Englar Business Park is up for a decision by the Postal Service's regional operations office.

"Right now, I feel very optimistic about it," said David Bradshaw, manager of administrative services for the agency's Baltimore district.

Money appears to be available, and unless the Westminster post office is bumped by a higher-priority project, he hopes for approval in 30 to 60 days. He declined to reveal the projected cost.

The planned post office would be built on a site the Postal Service owns at Woodward and Hahn roads behind the Wal-Mart store. The state Department of Assessments and Taxation valued the property at $314,330.

The new building would be a complete post office, "but we feel we still have to maintain a retail presence downtown," Mr. Bradshaw said.

That presence could be window service and stamp sales in the front section of the 60-year-old post office at East Main Street and Longwell Avenue, while some other use occupies the rest of the building, Mr. Bradshaw said. Or the Postal Service may sell the building and find a smaller space downtown, he said.

City officials want to see the Postal Service continue to offer customer services downtown, said Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan. "I'm not sure it makes a whole lot of difference whether it's in that building or some other building," he said.

Westminster Postmaster Richard Jozwiak said the existing building is congested and parking is inadequate. He said he does not anticipate a need to increase his 94-member staff for the new post office.

Westminster's growing population prompted the Postal Service to plan a new post office, Mr. Bradshaw said.

At 34,834 square feet, the post office in Englar Business Park would be more than double the size of the existing 16,950-square-foot building. The lobby would be nearly four times as large and would have more boxes, more self-service vending machines and more customer service windows than the existing facility, he said.

The Postal Service bought the Englar Business Park site in 1988 and was looking for land for a new Sykesville post office when both projects were suspended. Congressional budget cuts required the service to cut its construction projects by 75 percent in 1987-1988.

The HyettPalma report, a market analysis done for the city in 1994, identified the post office as "a valuable downtown Westminster use." If the post office moves out, the authors suggested, the building would be ideal for an arts center, museum or restaurant.

"It could be one of the main draws to the downtown area," said James H. Dulany, president of Greater Westminster Development Corp.

He said he wouldn't suggest uses for the building, however, because the GWDC board hasn't taken a position on possible uses.

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