Playing post office Carroll County: New Westminster postal facility opening rescheduled after avoidable delays.

July 07, 1998

AFTER nearly a year's delay, the new Westminster post office is supposed to open this month. It's overdue, for all the grumbling about inadequacies of the existing Main Street building.

But reasons for delay raise further questions about management of the U.S. Postal Service and the depth of its concern for patrons.

The agency said it had been negotiating for eight months with the contractor to finish a list of 245 incomplete items. In late June, the contractor was replaced. The new firm was told to complete the job for a July 20 opening.

The scheduled opening of the facility in Englar Business Park has been repeatedly delayed, ever since the Postal Service bought the site 10 years ago. Skeptics will recall that the agency proposed an opening last fall, then kept delaying it with no satisfactory explanation.

The 35,000-square-foot building was finished in October, according to the contractor, who has built other post offices for the agency.

Instead of being forthright with the public, and firm in the construction dispute, the Postal Service has continued to dance around the issue.

Both sides were experienced and knowledgeable, which should have accelerated a resolution. A prompt decision was needed to get the new Westminster office ready for customers, who now jostle for parking spaces and places in long lines to reach the counter.

Meanwhile, the new Sykesville-Eldersburg post office location was selected after two years of resistance from neighborhood residents and county officials. The solution was to find a new site for the same building plans in the same business center, instead of continuously fighting over entrance-exit plans. Here again, a sensible solution could have been reached sooner.

This is not the Postal Service of a decade earlier, whose budget was crimped by Congress. The agency is making a billion dollars a year, even as it again raises the price of sending a letter in January. It's past time for the agency to deliver.

Pub Date: 7/07/98

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