Port Townsend City Council moves on post office agreement
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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The Port Townsend City Council on Monday night directed City Manager David Timmons to go ahead on an agreement in which the city will construct a mail-sorting facility in the business park adjacent to Howard Street at the south end of town.
“I think we should act quickly,” Timmons said at the meeting.
“We can put together a partnership to work and if we can get a memorandum in place we can show the Postal Service we are serious and they won’t pursue other options.
“We want to make sure the Postal Service won’t walk away from this deal.”
Facing declining revenues, the Postal Service has announced that it plans to “surplus,” — or sell — several properties, including the Customs House, where its post office is now housed.
The resolution passed by the council instructs Timmons to develop a workable agreement within 180 days.
The agreement has no financial specifications, with any allocations to be approved separately by the council, Timmons said.
The timing of the exchange is undetermined. It depends upon the financing and construction of the new facility.
Upon the facility’s completion, the U.S. Postal Service would exchange the Customs House property for the new facility and the city would then lease the space back to the post office inside the building.
The retail center of the post office and the boxes will be retrofitted to become compatible with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Stairs are difficult or impossible for some to climb at the main post office in the Customs House building at 1322 Washington St.
The Postal Service has provided drive-up service for disabled customers there, and a substation is located in the Purple Heron, 1117 Water St.
Previous plans for the Customs House had proposed installing an elevator to take the place of old bank vaults that were situated underneath each other on every floor but that was abandoned because of the pitch of the roof, Timmons said.
The elevator when constructed will be on the outside of the building, he said.
A June 2011 budget for the initial improvements estimates a cost of between $140,000 and $170,000.
This includes new doors and stairs that are ADA-compliant but does not include the cost of an elevator.
The renovation was listed as a priority of the Port Townsend Public Development Authority.
Once the retrofit is completed, the upper floors of the building will be leased out as office or commercial space.
The city also is seeking a partnership with the Washington Trust for Historical Preservation which could provide some of the funds for the building’s rehabilitation.
Timmons said the sgtate trust is in line to develop a maritime heritage program which would create an opportunity for the building.
“If Congress approves this, then our goal is to convince the Trust to move its offices from Seattle to here,” Timmons said.
Another potential client is the United States Fish and Game Department’s regional office, Timmons said.
Timmons said the construction of the new sorting facility will improve downtown traffic conditions because large mail trucks would be relegated to a site close to the city limits.
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: June 19. 2012 6:22PM