Nov. 17, 2005 The U.S. Postal Service is on the verge of making a deal to move its Cruz Bay facility to a building now under construction near the Westin Resort and Villas at a project called Guinea Grove, Thomas E. Pino, Postal Services real estate manager, said Thursday at a meeting held at the Westin.
The Postal Service has been trying for many years to find a location to build a larger facility. Pino said he's worked on the project since 1992.
After he and other members of the Postal Service staff discussed some details of the proposed facility, Keith Richards, capital projects director at Government House, said the government planned to make a formal proposal to include the post office at the planned Vendor's Plaza in Cruz Bay. He said the proposal would be ready by Wednesday.
Richards said that instead of building a two-story building as planned, the government would put up a three-story building on the site across from the Creek. It is now used as a parking lot. The site would still include the Vendor's Plaza and parking originally planned for the building.
He said Apex Construction and Cape Architects are already on board. Additionally, the Legislature has appropriated $3.1 million for the project.
While Pino and the other Postal Service staff listened to Richards' informal proposal, Pino said that to start over with a change in plans at this late date could mean the post office wouldn't get built anytime soon.
"If we have an opportunity, we don't want to let it go," St. John resident Alfredo Alejo said, urging that the Postal Service go forward with its Guinea Grove proposal.
Pino said there was a window of about 60 days to work things out with the Guinea Grove developer so the company could incorporate the Postal Service's needs into its plans.
Dane Weir, the manager of design construction, said the Guinea Grove facility will have 5,200 square feet of space, much more than the 2,800 it currently has at the existing post office.
He said the new facility will also address the number one problem for customers at the Cruz Bay Post Office lack of parking. He said the new facility will have 14 spaces plus another one for vehicles with a handicap sticker.
Weir said it will also have room to deal with the enormous amount of packages that arrive on St. John. The Post Office currently uses a trailer for packages placed in what was once the Post Office's parking lot.
In response to suggestions from some of the two dozen people who attended the meeting about other locations for the Post Office, Pino said he's looked everywhere for suitable space. At some apparently optimum locations, the land owners weren't interested in making a deal with the Postal Service.
"This is the closest thing we've been able to identify in many, many years," he said.
Complaints from St. John residents at the meeting centered on the inconvenience that moving the post office would create for Cruz Bay-based businesses. Vehicles coming from Cruz Bay will have to go up the narrow and steep road called Jacob's Ladder to get there, and there doesn't appear to be any transportation options for people used to walking to the Cruz Bay Post Office.
St. Thomas Postmaster Robert Allen said he plans to have businesses around the island serve as contract facilities so people will be able to mail letters and packages. They will still have to go to post office to pick up their mail.
Edis Santos, who works at the Cruz Bay Post Office, said that everyone will have to adapt to the new location.
"We are so excited, we don't know what to do," she said, referring to the proposed new facility.
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