Some Columbia residents complain post office move would inconvenience them

One opponent complains few were notified about meeting on new location

March 22, 2000|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Opponents of a proposal to move a small post office from Columbia's Town Center lakefront two-tenths of a mile across the street to The Mall in Columbia braved a blustery rain last night to state their case at a meeting.

Several people who rent boxes at the tiny branch in the American Cities building, where it has been since 1968, complained that the mall location will cost them time and a longer walk to get their daily mail.

Clarence Page, an opponent, complained that too few people were notified about last night's meeting in the main Columbia post office on Oak Hall Lane in east Columbia. "We were lucky to find out about it," he said.

Matthew S. Taylor, whose office is within walking distance of the post office, said the proposed location near Bun Penny Food and Wine is "perhaps the most massively inconvenient place."

But Columbia Postmaster Y. Pat Moore said she gets complaints almost daily from people who have trouble parking near the branch on Wincopin Circle. Many people in Columbia don't know the 2,100-square-foot office is there, she said, and moving it to the mall would bring more visibility and more foot traffic.

Postal officials say the new branch would be larger, in a prime location and more accessible to handicapped patrons. They also said opponents' views will be considered before any lease is signed.

Joe O'Connor, a Postal Service real estate official, said he has a lease signed by the Rouse Co. for more than 3,700 square feet in the mall, but the postal service has not signed it yet.

"We are not at a point of no return," he said, although he acknowledged that no other locations had been studied.

Several people suggested going ahead with the move to the mall but also opening a smaller post office in a west Columbia village center.

John Lehman, architect for the Postal Service, said that "is impossible to do" because of economic reasons.

"Columbia is nothing but a mall," said Bonita Glaser, who said she has watched for years as more and more of the town's folksy amenities are "stripped away. There is no town center. I want to live in a town.

"It's just, yuck," Glaser said about the proposed move.

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