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Published: 5/17/2011

Waterville post office to close; new location sought

BLADE STAFF

A temporary emergency suspension will close the City of Waterville’s Post Office in the coming days, and operations will be shifted to the Maumee Post Office.

The U.S. Postal Service was unable to reach a lease agreement with the owner of the building on South Third Street in the community’s downtown business district where the post office has been housed for years. “We couldn’t come to an agreement with the landlord. We are going to temporarily move services to the Maumee Post Office,” said U.S. Postal Service spokesman David Walton.

Reaction was swift from some local business owners as well as from city elected officials, and the news was particularly unsettling to some residents of one of Ohio’s newest cities. The community along the Maumee River gained city status at the end of April. The community’s population surged from 4,828 in 2000 to 5,523 in 2010, according to recent census figures. Breaking the 5,000 mark pushed the village into a city.

“I am actively working with [U.S. Rep. Bob Latta] to ensure Waterville continues to have a post office,” said Waterville Mayor Derek Merrin. “I am hopeful that a new lease agreement can be reached between the post office and the property owner.”

The Waterville lease expires May 31.

Jamie Black, Waterville Gas and Oil co-owner and secretary, said they mail out 6,000 bills a month and have had a post office box for years. He said Waterville has had the downtown Waterville post office since at least 1961, when the postal service started renting the building there.

“With a town like Waterville, it’s an integral part of the fabric of the community,” he said.

“It’s just aggravating we’ve had such short notice. It’s going to leave another vacant building in downtown Waterville. It’s a shame. It’s an absolute shame.”

He said he now has 40,000 mailing envelopes he just bought that will have incorrect mailing addresses on them.

The postal service owns some post offices and leases others, Mr. Walton said. The postal carriers will move to the Maumee Post Office on Friday, and the retail postal service and the 176 post office boxes will relocate at the close of business May 27, he said, noting people who rent post office boxes can get their mail delivered for free to their homes; some people prefer a post office box because they can get their mail earlier than those who have delivery at their homes, he said.

Customers whose mail arrives via carriers won’t notice a change in delivery. “They will still get mail” as they have in the past, Mr. Walton said.

Relocating the operations to Maumee will mean that there won’t be a disruption in service, he said.

The postal service, he said, is reviewing retail sites in the Waterville area, but he did not have any additional information about that or about the lease.

“We did try very hard to negotiate this,” Mr. Walton said.

He said he is not involved in lease negotiations, but said the failure to reach a lease agreement might have been related to price or terms. The postal service pays fair market for its leases, and he said sometimes landlords want more than the fair market price. Given the financial situation of the postal service, “we cannot pay more than fair market value.” He noted the postal service’s revenue was down $8.5 billion in the last fiscal year.

“We are reviewing all possible options for some kind of postal retail service” in Waterville, he said, such as a place where postal patrons could buy stamps and ship packages.

The U.S. Postal Service, he said, is downsizing, and “we are looking at every single office,” particularly with the more than $8 billion loss last fiscal year.



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