Postal change of address delayed Finishing touches on new mail facility postpone opening


Westminster Postmaster Kathleen Schultz said she's stopped predicting when the postal service might move from its 1930s building on East Main Street to the large new facility that's sitting empty at the edge of town.

Several moving dates in November, January and February were scrubbed, as U.S. Postal Service real estate officials conducted a series of walk-throughs -- drawing up lists of things to be corrected, such as counter tops, window caulking, electrical outlets and patches of flooring.

The real estate and project managers at the D.C. Metro Facilities Service Office, who decide when the building is acceptable to be inhabited, did not respond to repeated inquiries about the new building.

Schultz hesitated as she said the move might come late this month to the new facility on Woodward Road, between routes 27 and 140, in the Englar Business Park.

"It's up to the real estate people. We're just in the middle," she said.

"The outside is done. The inside still has some areas to be completed. It's a lot of little things -- nothing structural, no," she said when asked about rumors of burst pipes and a leaking roof.

The delay is primarily for finishing touches, such as signs and vending equipment for a post office store and the delivery of more than 2,000 post office boxes from Topeka, Kan., she said during a recent tour of the new building.

"We have 942 boxes at the existing post office, and we always have a waiting list."

Standing in the red, white and blue public area, a metal grid of empty spaces for these post office boxes revealed the expansive workroom and delivery areas at the rear of the building.

"There is a lot of business out here," Schultz said. "You would be surprised at the volume this office handles."

For instance, she said, the new building could handle "a 7 million-piece mailing" by a Westminster business that had its paperwork processed there.

Schultz, formerly the customer services manager at Gaithersburg, was appointed in September as postmaster for Westminster, which has 43 routes -- 19 in the city and 24 rural.

24-hour service lobby

Customer parking will be greatly improved, Schultz said. The current building was adapted to be handicap-accessible from the parking lot, but the new one was built handicap-accessible.

The new post office will have a 24-hour service lobby for access to boxes, copying, and a weight-and-rate unit for checking postage.

While Schultz awaits the move from Main Street, bids are being considered for a small postal operation for downtown residents, said R. Douglas Mathias, executive director of the Greater Westminster Development Corp.

Downtown operation

Mathias, who headed a committee to keep postal service downtown, said several bids were received to operate the service on a contract basis.

"We've been following the progress of the new building, and we fully expect that we will have a downtown postal contract station open at the same time that they start to move into the new building in the Englar Business Park," he said.

"And we're working with postal officials to save the downtown existing building," he said.

Governments have first claim to the building, and the federal, state and city governments have said they don't want to use it.

But the county is interested in the building, possibly for its library headquarters, said Steven D. Powell, the county's director of management and budget.

Old post office uses

The building would be ideal for the headquarters, because the Westminster branch is on nearby Main Street, agreed Mathias, city and library officials.

But Powell said he first has to find a way out of the current lease to 2001 for the library offices at the Air Business Park, north of the city on Route 97.

The old post office, completed in 1934, was among four properties listed as key to a healthy downtown in a consultants' report to the city in 1994. The other three sites -- the firehouse, the old J.C. Penney building and the Farmers Supply Co. -- have been or are being redeveloped.

Pub Date: 3/10/98

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