Downtown postal service returns in Westminster

Satellite office opens in Main Street grocery

May 04, 1999|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Postal service returned to Westminster's Main Street yesterday with the official opening of a satellite office at Giulianova Groceria at the Winchester Exchange Building.

Owner Tony D'Eugenio said he was in at 6: 15 a.m., hours before state and local officials arrived for a ribbon-cutting. "I've been cooking -- lentil bean soup, fresh spaghetti sauce. I had some baking to do, and I had to make lasagna."

D'Eugenio said he hopes the post office window at the rear of his store will boost business when postal patrons get a whiff of what's cooking.

He's also glad to be free of the dozens of questions a day from people asking "When?"

The U.S. Postal Service awarded the contract for limited postal service to D'Eugenio, and service was to have begun in March, he said. The 1934 post office building at 83 E. Main St. closed in August when the Postal Service moved to a new facility on Woodward Drive on the outskirts of town.

2; "We celebrate the return of postal service to Main Street." R. Douglas Mathias,Greater Westminster Development Corp.

Many downtown merchants and residents complained afterward about the lost foot traffic.The satellite post office is seen as a way to bring customers and as a convenience.

D'Eugenio, who wore his trademark red apron over his striped shirt and tie, remembered having "sauce cooking on one stove, soup on another and something in the oven -- and I had to drive over a mile to get some stamps or whatever. It's good for me, as well as the merchants in the area."

R. Douglas Mathias, executive director of Greater Westminster Development Corp., worked for months to keep postal service downtown, even before the main post office closed.

"We celebrate the return of postal service to Main Street," he told a small group at yesterday's ceremony.

He said the original Westminster post office was built by the first postmaster, a pharmacist, in a building next to Locust Lane that is now the site of David's jewelers. He also noted that free rural mail delivery began from the Westminster post office and became a model nationwide.

The lack of postal service downtown after more than 100 years had not gone unnoticed.

"We've had citizens who've been asking for months and months and months: `When can I buy stamps and when can I mail packages again in downtown Westminster?' " Mathias said.

Service was restored after Maryland Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes became involved, he said.

"We're just glad that walk-up postal service has been restored to the downtown area, which will benefit customers of downtown businesses and residents," Mathias said.

Sarbanes, a Democrat, attended the ceremony and helped to cut the ribbon just before noon. He praised the work by Mathias and Westminster officials with the Postal Service.

"They have been able to get people together, able to work out the possibilities and come up with a feasible solution," Sarbanes said.

D'Eugenio, who took an eight-hour crash course on running the satellite office, said the postmaster and others at the post office are ready to help.

"They're just a telephone call away," he said. They've been working hand in hand with me to see me up and moving."

"I can tell you it's going to be a heck of a lot different from making manicotti," he told the group. "I wish I could perform my best for the people here."

Service hours will be Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4: 30 p.m., but closed for lunch from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday hours are 8 a.m. to noon.

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