By 3:30 yesterday afternoon, Dennis Kassimis was exhausted.
It was the day after a federal holiday — always a busy time for the Westport Post Office, which he serves as postmaster.
It was the first “real” workday after Christmas. Westporters who had been away were laden with packages to return, gifts to send back — and, of course, mail to pick up from PO boxes.
Plus, it was the 1st day in the new, but decidedly smaller, Westport post office in Playhouse Square.
Over the weekend, the move was made. Kassimis downsized — from 7000 square feet in the downtown location that opened in 1935, to 2700 square feet in the former location of Derma Clinic.
But unlike empty nesters looking for less space, the Post Office staff remains the same. There are, however, fewer sales windows — only 2 — plus 1 to pick up items.
There’s a lot less space everywhere — including the lobby.
The newness of the facility — clerks not sure where everything was, people still moving boxes around, along with the tightness of the waiting area, where bundled-up patrons were burdened with extra packages — made for a tough 1st day.
“We’re getting the kinks worked out,” Kassimis said with a weary smile. “We’re trying to get rid of the clutter.”
Kassimis is sure things will be better soon. He’s already pleased with the PO box area — which finally offers 24-hour access to box holders.
He went from 758 boxes in the old facility, to 678 in the new one. But all 80 boxes that disappeared were inactive. So no one lost a PO box — and everyone got to keep the same number.
As a result, the new boxes skip a few numbers here and there. A few years from now, that will no doubt be a trivia question posed to “06880.”
Kassimis is also happy with the parking. There was no dedicated lot downtown; now there are plenty of Playhouse Square spots.
At 3:30 yesterday, they were all filled. One woman parked by the curb, nearly blocking access to the condominiums behind.
Full disclosure: I live in those condos. The new post office will make access a bit more difficult. And the extra traffic will no doubt make leaving the shopping center a lot harder.
Interestingly, the reason for the move was the financial situation of the US Postal Service. Since we all now communicate by email and IMs, and send everything by FedEx, the Postal Service is in tough shape.
Though — judging by yesterday’s lines — there are still plenty of Westporters who need the post office.
Welcome to the neighborhood, post office and patrons! For the sake of us who live (and shop) here: Please drive and park safely!