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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.

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