Post office might move to mall site

New location would double facility's room

March 21, 2000|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

The tiny post office on Columbia's Town Center lakefront is as old as the community itself, but unless the public strongly objects at a meeting tonight it might soon move to larger quarters nearby.

The 2,000-square-foot office, tucked away off the lobby of the American Cities Building since 1968, might move to quarters nearly double that size at The Mall in Columbia, postal officials said. They think the new spot would be more accessible, both for walkers and customers who drive.

"Columbia has grown quite a bit," said Y. Pat Moore, Columbia's postmaster. "We have been looking to go to a more retail setting."

She explained that the downtown office is strictly for retail sales, not for mail distribution, and that won't change in the larger quarters.

The main Columbia post office, where Moore works, is across town at 6801 Oak Hall Lane, where the 7 p.m. meeting will be held. Parking can be difficult near the lakefront because Rouse Co. employees take most of the spots during business hours. Moore said she has received complaints from patrons.

A sampling of patrons yesterday reflected that concern, although not everyone likes the idea of moving, and several people said they got very little notice of the relocation plan.

Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, who represents the area, got no notice, a Cardin spokeswoman said yesterday.

Although Moore said the move is not final and might not happen if opposition is strong, mall spokeswoman Nancy Tucker said she thought the new location next to Bun Penny Food & Wine was arranged. The Mall in Columbia wants a post office because shoppers who fill out mall surveys often say they would like one, she said.

"It's stupid. It's one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard," said Jay Bonstingl, a Wilde Lake resident who has had a box at the office for 25 years.

Bonstingl said he knew nothing about the impending move until a clerk at the post office mentioned it last week. She directed him to a small notice taped to the front door. He then spoke to Moore and said he suggested placing notices in each of the 600 rented post office boxes, which was done. He likes things as they are, he said, because he can park at the yellow painted curb outside the building for the minute or two it takes to run in, empty his box and run out.

"When they move to the mall, I'll have to park out in the lot or high up in a garage and traipse through the mall."

Others who visited the office during lunch hour yesterday don't agree. Patrick Henry welcomed a move because he usually walks through The Mall from his office building near Broken Land Parkway to get to the existing post office.

When he drives, he said, "Parking is a pain. I always just park in the fire lane."

Dennis Elder, who works in the American Cities Building, said he would miss the office if it moves. "I kinda hope they don't, but it would probably get better use over there," he said.

Jay and Mi Choe will perhaps miss the office the most because it sits next to their convenience store and has helped attract customers for their snacks and cards over the past 16 years. "There's a lot of traffic," Mi Choe said as postal customers lined up next door.

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