Blue Springs officials are still fighting for their downtown post office.
By BRIAN BURNES
The Kansas City Star
That’s despite the letter they received earlier this month, indicating that postal officials were continuing the formal process to close and sell the building at 200 N.W. 11th St.
“We are losing a downtown asset that I don’t want to lose,” said Mayor Carson Ross.
Still, Ross added that he and other Blue Springs leaders are not done protesting the plans.
City officials are drafting a letter asking postal officials to reconsider the move. Other groups such as the Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce, the Blue Springs Economic Development Corp., and Downtown Alive, a group that includes downtown merchants, are preparing their own appeals.
Ross said he hopes all the letters can be bundled together and delivered by the end of the month.
“I love Adams Dairy Parkway,” Ross said, referring to the eastern Blue Springs commercial corridor. “But when you talk about a city that has been around as long as we have, we want to maintain the downtown we have.”
Last summer postal officials announced their plan to close the downtown post office and move operations to an annex building at 500 S.W. South Ave., east of Missouri 7.
Last December officials explained their perspectives to the Blue Spring City Council.
“The U.S. Postal Service continues to be challenged financially,” said Russ Rainey, a post office facilities official from Denver.
Among the post office’s concerns, Rainey added, were changing mailing habits that contributed to a 25 percent reduction in mail volume over the past five years, as well as an estimated loss of $15.9 billion during the last calendar year.
Given those realities, Rainey said, the postal service is compelled to operate as efficiently as possible. To that end, he added, the annex facility offers about 22,000 square feet, perhaps twice that available at the downtown building.
The plans still disappointed council members, who detailed the efforts city officials have been making to revitalize the downtown district. Those included the downtown master plan developed several years ago by an urban design firm.
Downtown business operators continue to invest in the district and make heir livelihoods there, said Kent Edmondson, a council member who long has operated a Kwik Kopy Printing Center in the area.
“To put it bluntly, I think (they’ll) take it as a slap in the fact that you are leaving,” he said at the meeting.
Dale Carter, another council member, noted the lack of sidewalks and other infrastructure near the annex building.
“Are you going to end up coming to us for infrastructure money down the road?” Carter asked the postal representatives.
Ross recently echoed that concern.
“The annex location is definitely not as conducive to traffic as the post office we have now,” he said. “The infrastructure is just not there and it’s hard for me to visualize what they want to do with it.”
Ross hopes that a “groundswell” of sentiment in support of the current location can sway postal officials.
“I know the post office is in trouble and they are trying to find ways to save money,” he said.
“But I will do everything in my power to make sure that we are heard.”
There are no other similar scenarios currently going forward either in eastern Jackson or Cass counties, said Richard Watkins, spokesman for the postal service’s Kansas City-based Mid-America District.
About 75 percent of post offices nationwide are leased locations, Watkins said. Sill, he added, the postal service is always looking for ways to operate more efficiently, yet maintain retail services.
“This is a smart move for the postal service, especially given our finances,” Watkins said, referring to the downtown Blue Springs post office.
“That’s especially true when we can sell that building and then move less than a mile away and have more floor space.”
To reach Brian Burnes, call 816 234-4120 or send emial to firstname.lastname@example.org.