June 8, 2004 – A new post office for St. John is back on the front burner, U.S. Postal Service authorities said at a public meeting Tuesday at the Legislature Building in Cruz Bay.
"This project has been a long time coming," Nicholas J. Menchise, senior real estate specialist for the U.S.P.S. New York region, said.
He said he anticipates "optimistically" that customers will be using the new post office in a year and a half to two years. He said it will be 5,000 to 6,500 square feet in size. That compares to the 1,254 square feet of the existing facility.
The Postal Service had planned to develop a new post office on St. John several years ago, but budget woes in 2002 put the kibosh to that plan. Now, it's back to square one. Menchise said that the agency must again ask residents what they want in the way of a post office, and then find suitable land or a facility.
Cost is a factor, he said, but no firm budget has been set, because the Postal Service doesn't know whether it will build or lease.
Menchise said the Postal Service has ruled out expanding the existing post office in Cruz Bay because there isn't enough adjacent land available. At a hearing four years ago, some residents said they wanted the post office to remain in the heart of Cruz Bay, but Menchise said that just isn't an option. "The parking facilities are inadequate," he said.
He said the Postal Service would not rule out developing a mid-island facility to serve both Cruz Bay area residents and those who live in the booming Coral Bay region.
It has three options: building a new facility on land it buys, building on leased land, and leasing an existing facility. What it decides to do will be influenced by what proposals are made.
Menchise said the Postal Service prefers a modern, free-standing building, rather than one within a shopping center. The building needs to be large enough to meet the projected needs for the next 10 years, and the land must allow room for expansion so the agency can meet its needs in 20 years.
He said the Postal Service will take comments from the public for the next 30 to 60 days, advertise for proposals for 30 days, then take another three to four months to evaluate those proposals. If new construction is the option selected, that should take about nine months, he said.
One resident suggested on Tuesday that the Postal Service negotiate with the Interior Department to use land owned by V.I. National Park. However, Menchise said that such negotiations would take years, and in the meantime funding that's now available could go to another post office project.
"It's not simple," V.I. Postmaster Louis A. Jackson added.
When the Postal Service previously looked for land on St. John, Jackson said, several people made proposals. Menchise said at least one of those offers is still good.
Resident Doris Stuckert, whose family corporation owns a large tract of land that runs from near the North Shore Road to Centerline Road, said the shareholders may consider making a proposal.
About 10 people attended the meeting.
The public can drop off comments with St. John Postmaster Glenn S. Jackson or mail them to Menchise at the New York Facilities Service Office, Real Estate Branch, 2 Hudson Place, Fifth Floor, Hoboken N.J. 07030-5502.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. John Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.