Friday, August 05, 2005

Column 41 - Post Office 2

We are in the final stages of having the new post office location on Village Boulevard shoved down our throats.

The drawbacks to this site seem to make a no-brainer case against building there, yet the USPS is marching on and local opposition seems isolated and muted. One has to ask why, and the answer is likely to be found in Deep Throat’s advice, “follow the money.”

My sources tell me (and I have not verified this) that some influential local people own lots that will be bought by the USPS for the site. Given the USPS has committed itself to the site, if I were selling land that they need, I would expect to get top dollar for my lot and would stand to hold the USPS up if they offered less than what I wanted – the only limit would be my own greed. Also, it may be in some people’s interest to have the post office move out of the Village Center, which could lower the value of the center and make it easier for someone who was interested in developing that area to buy it.

To review: The proposed site is in an area (Village and Tanager) that already sees a lot of traffic, and locating the post office there will only increase that traffic. It will back up to the fire station and unless Tanager is widened could interfere with the Fire District’s responding efficiently in an emergency. The Fire District has not weighed in publicly on this, but again it seems to stand to reason that increasing traffic flow in this area could hinder fire response.

Locating the PO away from other businesses means that people who need to go there will need to make an extra stop, increasing gas usage and pollution. Moving the PO out of Village Center cannot help and will probably hurt the businesses there.

The Board of Trustees and the CAB have formed a committee to create an integrated community plan. If the USPS moves forward with their relocation as planned, any community plan will have to work around the new PO, a setup for a classic case of the tail wagging the dog. The USPS failed to consult the community when they made their plans several years ago – they can make up for that insult now by putting off their plans until the community plan is formulated.

As I’ve pointed out before, the USPS is cutting services and raising prices (tried to find a Post Office on Saturday lately?) while failing to compete for reliability, predictability, or speed with Fedex and UPS. At the same time they have arrogantly ignored and bypassed the community in their plans while telling us they are relocating to provide better service.

The potential negative effects on traffic, parking, emergency services, and local business, in my view, far outweigh the benefits that the relocation might provide. The Postmaster has left (coincidence?) and we can expect him to be replaced by someone who will toe the USPS line. The PO staff don’t want to move, there is at least some opposition to the move in the village, and what is predictable is that the USPS will move ahead regardless, since they are not accountable to anyone here and no one here can stop them. Notwithstanding that, it is time for the community to be heard. I call on the IVGID Board, the Fire District, the Sheriff’s office, and the public to weigh in. If the problems I and others have cited are not real, show us that. If they are, then show us where Incline, not just the USPS or some narrow interests, will benefit. Otherwise, wait until the Incline Vision project has made recommendations, and integrate the USPS’s plans with those of the community.

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