Westminster post office contractor replaced, opening date set on July 20

June 23, 1998|By Jackie Powder and Mary Gail Hare | Jackie Powder and Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

The U.S. Postal Service has hired a new contractor to finish the Westminster post office and plans to open the facility July 20 after months of delay.

The old contractor, Charles J. Frank of Hunt Valley, seemed unaware yesterday that he had been replaced. He did not know about next month's opening date until told of it by a reporter.

"It's about time, it's long overdue," he said of the scheduled opening.

The $2.7 million replacement building at Woodward and Hahn streets has been finished since October, Frank said. Postal officials declared it ready for occupancy in November, he said, but never took possession of the building.

Postal officials refused to discuss details of the delay until yesterday.

"We were in the process of negotiating with [Frank] and could not jeopardize those negotiations," said Terry Riley, manager of Capital Metro Facilities Service.

Warren Walker, manager of design and construction for the Postal Service, said Frank was sent a certified letter June 17 telling him 245 items remained incomplete.

Although the Postal Service has yet to receive a return receipt for that letter, Frank is "no longer on the job," said Walker. "We have been involved with the contractor for many months and he has not performed the job."

Biscayne Contractors Inc. of Forestville in Prince George's vTC County began work on the building last week, Walker said.

Frank said he has built post offices in Severna Park and Havre de Grace without a problem, but described the Westminster project as "a circus." He said he has hired an attorney to help him obtain more than $179,000 owed him by the Postal Service.

The July 20 opening date in Westminster and a July 13 construction start for a Sykesville post office were announced yesterday by Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, who represents the district that includes Westminster.

The Postal Service informed Bartlett of the dates after he wrote to the federal agency last week seeking information on the Carroll projects, he said.

The Westminster post office will move from its 70-year-old Main Street building July 18 and reopen for business July 20 at 8 a.m. at its new facility in Englar Business Park.

The opening of the Westminster post office is expected to ease traffic, parking and crowding problems that have become increasingly troublesome at the Main Street site.

"I'm relieved that it's finally going to open. It's probably the most discussed project in Westminster," said Thomas B. Beyard, Westminster director of planning and public works. "There's a need for it, and I think the public and [post office] employees will be better served in the new building."

Pub Date: 6/23/98

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