Business owners and residents in Silver Spring are hoping to convince the Postal Service to bring back a post office to downtown.
Members of the Urban District Advisory Committee discussed the status and future of the U.S. Post Office branch at 8653 16th Street in Silver Spring at a meeting Oct. 17.
Last year, two post offices— the main post office branch at 8616 Second Street and the Silver Spring Center branch at 8455 Colesville Road— were consolidated into one at a new location on 16th Street.
But the committee said the new location, for an urban area that is growing, is not easily accessible.
“We lost both of our postal offices in the urban district area, and so now, as a small business member, for me to go to the post office I really have to bring my car to work and drive over to 16th Street to mail a package,” said Jon Lourie, a member of the Urban District Advisory Committee.
The move to the 16th Street location was due to financial cuts, and postal officials said “they will remain in that shopping center for now.” The federal agency had also considering closing the Leisure World location and consolidating to the Aspen Hill location, but postal service did not go through with it.
“We have a free shuttle in the downtown area, and it doesn’t stop there [at 16th street] either,” said Lourie.
Officials from the postal service agency apologized for the inconvenience, and agreed that the 16th Street office “it is in a very tight shopping center with a lot of business there. Parking is kind of tight, almost crazy,” said Margie Rodriguez, U.S. Postal Service customer relations coordinator.
Rodriguez and the committee shared ideas to help the post office better serve the community, but it all comes down to expenses.
“Real estate is not cheap in downtown Silver Spring, and so the postal service has had for obvious reasons-financial crises-and had to liquidate properties because the agency needed the money,” added Rodriguez.
Officials also said the lease agreement on the 16th Street location does not expire until 2022. However, with the Purple Line project moving forward, the branch may have to move once again since the shopping may be demolished to house the Woodside/16th Street Purple Line station.
“Mass transit have come to us, and said we may be affected... but these are just initial conversations, nothing has been written in stone yet,” said Rodriguez. “We belong in the community, and we will be in the community in one shopping center, or another.”
Rodriguez informed the board if local companies are interested on growing businesses, the agency could help. They can develop what they call “village postal offices or contract postal units.”
The post service would take part of a room and create a mini-post office.
“We can go in and cut in...we will take up some space, and you will have a home post office in your line of business,” she said.
There are certain criteria, requirements and security measures that has to be taken into consideration to make it safe for costumers.
“If it happens to be a liquor store type [for example] or something that sells liquor, it has to be a separate entrance,” added Rodriguez.
The committee agreed to have future meetings with the post office agency and help representatives find the best location in Silver Spring.
“I would imagine if it is more difficult to access the post office, people are going to go to other means to send packages,” Lourie said.