PO’d At The PO?

How can I put this without sounding NIMBY?

Well, actually NIMFY.  You know:  Not In My Front Yard.

I live in what longtime Westporters call “the condos behind Friendly’s” — past the far end of Playhouse Square.

Others know it as “the condos behind Derma Clinic.”  But that’s been closed for over 2 years too.

Soon, I may be living in “the condos behind the post office.”


The entrance to Playhouse Square.

I’m not one to complain about certain changes.  When I bought my place I knew  there was a possibility that Winslow Park — despite being designated as open space in perpetuity — might become something other than a dog run.  When there was talk the YMCA might move there — even though the park is right in my BY — I was not displeased.

But the post office in Playhouse Square –WTF?

Fortunately, I’m not the only Westporter who is concerned.  RTM member Dick Lowenstein — who lives in Green’s Farms, and has a perfectly good post office very close to his own BY — has been motivated enough to write letters.

Over a year ago — after the US Postal Service announced that, for economic reasons, it would sell the building it’s owned since construction in 1936 — he contacted the USPS vice president in North Windsor, CT.  Dick noted that a post office is “core” to a functional, vibrant and efficient downtown area.  Consistent with the Town Plan of Conservation and Development, he said that of the 3 possible sites for a new post office, only one — the current location (though smaller than its current size) — was acceptable.

Dick noted that patrons would not walk to a Playhouse Square post office from downtown, making the current parking situation — “already tight” — worse.

If the USPS sold the current building to a developer, who then subdivided and gave the Postal Service a 2,000-square foot long-term lease, Dick said, a historic building would be saved; downtown Westport would keep an “anchor service,” the USPS would get cash; the developer would have a long-term tenant, and Westport would get the property back on its tax roll.

Perhaps Dick’s letter got lost in the mail.  Maybe others — including several from First Selectman Gordon Joseloff — did too.

This winter, the USPS announced its intention to move into Playhouse Square.  It expects to occupy the end unit, formerly filled by Friendly’s and Derma Clinic.

Westport's new post office?

According to Joseph J. Mulvey, a USPS “real estate specialist,” the proposed buyer of the downtown post office building — not yet publicly identified — does not want the post office to remain there.

Mulvey added that Playhouse Square “meets our requirements, is available, and was offered in response to our search for space.”

He believes the property will provide Westport with “an efficient, modern facility that offers a safe working environment for our employees and a level of service expected by our customers.”

Except those who try to drive there.  And then leave.

As anyone who shops at Playhouse Square knows, the parking lot is always crowded.  Many cars belong to employees themselves.

With over a dozen retail establishments — including an organic food store, frame shop, jewelry store and spa — open spots are at a premium.

A typical day in Playhouse Square.

Entering and exiting is always a problem.  There is one narrow entry lane; cars leaving funnel into a tight space, often backing up and blocking vehicles coming from the “upper” lot.

The United States Postal Service is in an unenviable position.  It has a difficult mandate — deliver mail to every citizen, everywhere in the country, at a low cost — and is buffeted by competition ranging from Fed Ex and UPS to faxes and email.

The question is:  Will moving this post office to a less convenient location help or hurt the USPS?

Click “Comments” to share your thoughts.  Or write.  I’m at 301 Post Road East.  You know:  the condos behind the already crowded Playhouse Square shopping center.  Right past what may soon become the post office.

25 responses to “PO’d At The PO?

  1. Our PO in Weston is a delightful USPS branch. Parking is good The employees are friendly and efficient. It is a bit of a drive from downtown Westport but it will be worth it once the new Westport PO opens.

  2. Go to the Greens Farms branch.

  3. Dan,
    Hopefully they (the government) is taking the cash proceeds from the sale of the current location on State and Bay Streets to pay down their debt and will be renting in Playhouse Square which I agree is a stupid location. Let them learn the hard way and when the lease expires they can do it right in the right place as they should have done in the first place. The other thing is, as you said, they are facing competition from technology, UPS, Kinko’s and Fedex among many others. The consequence for the Feds failing to compete against private enterprise is our taxes go up, the consequence for private enterprise failing to compete against a public entity like the USPS is they learn their lesson the hard way and hopefully fail to repeat it. This is stupid, I’ll agree but pales against really stupid moves attempted in the past such as putting a nuclear reactor on Cockenoe Island. We need to pick our battles better than this.

  4. Ann Marie Flynn

    Perhaps a police car should be stationed there on a 9am to 6pm basis to cover the auto/pedestrian accidents that will be happening. Entering and exiting Playhouse Square is already problematic due to small space, foot traffic and many vehicles. I probably will feel like a kid in an amusement park go-cart and, unintentionally, play the ‘gotch ya’ game with other cars.
    Every one….get your helmets ready!

  5. Holly Wheeler

    I’m under the impression that the fairly new postal facility at 234 Westport Ave, NORWALK (before you get to Stew’s) is actually a WESTPORT Post Office !!! What’s up with that?

  6. Maggie Mudd

    The Norwalk location is where Westporters go to retrieve their held mail when they have been absent from town for a spell. I always have wondered why we go to Nowalk…
    Moving the PO to Playhouse Sq is a horrible idea. Entering that parking lot is not worth it. I have encountered the most ill-tempered people in all of Westport navigating that space-and that is saying something.

  7. Dick Lowenstein

    All Westport deliveries begin at the Norwalk facility. It may also be where outgoing Westport mail is sent for subsequent redistribution, though it maybe Stamford. Norwalk does not have a retail window.

  8. whine_me_not

    UPS Store, FedEx/Kinko’s, etc, are all in Westport strip malls; so why shouldn’t USPS?

    USPS parking has ALWAYS sucked, both downtown & old Saugutuck, so what’s new?

    Isn’t the ‘hollow-out-the-downtown-core’ point a bit ironic for the Y@Mahackenite demo?

  9. John McCarthy

    So, who bought the building and won’t let the post office stay? My money is on David Waldman.

  10. The Dude Abides

    My Gosh there are plenty of strip mall shops available to lease. Two by Radio Shack. I am afraid the USPS is dying a slow death, however. Nobody sends letters any more. Do love the Greens Farms branch. Friendly and efficient and has the small town feel about it. Reminds me of ole Westport.

    • It sure does!

    • Hey Dude, Don’t give away the best kept secret in Westport!
      It’s like a place from Green Acres…I’m expecting Sam Drucker to step from behind the counter.

  11. USPS had a subsidized monopoly, but they lost just about everything, because they don’t listen. And they ain’t gonna start now.
    Politicians get taken on junkets by junk mailers and they then authorize them to stuff your mailbox with stuff that goes immediately into the landfill. WHA ?
    They are FUBAR.
    Orders from “on high” to “close anything possible.” Guy will get a bonus for reducing service. SNAFU.
    Need a viral video to get decision reversed… Staples ?

  12. In truth, it does not matter where the new post office is located; people will whine and gripe.

  13. The Dude Abides

    I won’t bannish the Post Service although I am afraid their days are numbered. For 45 cents to send a letter across the country is still a good deal to me and I do send letters still, even thank you notes. USPS has tried to keep up with their flat rate boxing charges but FedEx.UPS usually beats them. Yet I still enjoy getting the mail and I still give our Postperson a check for Christmas. Good people. I repudiate the FUBAR pronouncement.

    • When giving your postperson a check at Chiristmas, you may be in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act; give cash next time.

      • The Dude Abides

        A government employee may receive gifts up to $25.00, whether by check or cash. No RICOH action required.

    • Yo, Dude. Thanks… “repudiate” is such a beautiful word and very polite. So too is hyperbole.
      Our local USPS closes Saugatuck, moves the PO Boxes into a seedy “no lock” trailer, lets you try to transact business in a news stand with a clerk who has no training, offers no window service in Norwalk (where they transferred Saugatuck), sells a long standing historic building without keeping a small sub-let, then plans to move into a totally cluster parking situation in Play House (pun?) Square.
      They ignore their customers and the local “mayor.” Their website is a complicated maze of dead ends with unlinked explanations. And they are losing money faster than Gadhafi in his Swiss banks.
      I thought FUBAR was fairly accurate. Is SNAFU OK ? 🙂

      • Excellent description of their current affairs!
        FUBAR and SNAFU are both fitting.

  14. The Dude Abides

    Not to argue and considering they had a 10 billion dollar surplus (before they went sponsoring Lance and his boys in the Tour), the USPS has certainly gone downhill, especially in Westport. I still like Postpeople. SNAFU will work.

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