Postal site irks Hampstead mayor

Location considered too far from town's business district

August 05, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

The U.S. Postal Service likely will build a Hampstead post office more than a mile from the business district, a move the Carroll County mayor criticized yesterday as a "major mistake" and "hypocritical."

Mayor Christopher M. Nevin charged that postal officials "were paying nothing more than lip service" when they agreed in June to consider locating a post office in the downtown business district at the old Hampstead Elementary School.

Nevin said John Turpin, a postal service spokesman, told him Tuesday the "preferred site was the one on Route 30 near Lizzie's Lockers," near the town's northern border with Greenmount.

Town and business officials have been lobbying postal officials for months to keep a post office in the business district.

"Overall, it's a pretty poor decision since the majority of the town's residents live south of Route 482 and they want to place the new post office a mile from there," Nevin said.

He also said the post office's decision violates the governor's Smart Growth objectives to control sprawl and direct development to existing communities.

"I believe that decision was made Monday, or even before that," Nevin said. "All it is going to do is create more traffic as town residents have to drive that much farther to get to the post office. We still don't know what they are going to do to deliver mail to the folks living on Main Street." Those living along Main Street pick up their mail from postal boxes in the post office on Houck Avenue.

Calls to Turpin yesterday were not returned.

The school site was preferred by Nevin, the Town Council and Christian E. Cavey, president of the Hampstead Business Association. They wanted to preserve the school's facade for its historical and sentimental significance.

The mayor said he was disappointed the Carroll County commissioners recently decided to negotiate directly with postal officials, after agreeing in January to support the town's desire to have the post office located at the old school site.

"The post office on Houck Avenue has been the anchor for the town's small businessmen," Nevin said. "What are they going to do now?"

U.S. Postal Service officials informed Hampstead leaders about 16 months ago of their intention to move out of the cramped quarters on Houck Avenue, where postal employees have 3,600 square feet of space. The postal service wants to build a 14,000-square-foot facility and needed to secure a location by next month or risk losing money budgeted for the project.

The old school building, owned by the Carroll County Board of Education, was built around 1917. In recent years, it had been used for storage of surplus materials, including desks and toilets. Pub

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