By Marcello Iaia
KNOX — While Knox residents now have a long daily drive to retrieve their mail, the United States Postal Service is weighing two options close to home — the lower level of Town Hall or the original location restored.
Maureen Marion, spokesperson for the USPS in the Northeast, said the oil furnace at the closed Knox location was serviced last week in the foreclosed facility, located on Route 157 in the hamlet next to the closed general store. She said ownership and maintenance are still several weeks away from being resolved.
“We’re waiting to secure documentation and clear with the legal department,” said Marion.
The Knox Town Board unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday to offer a space in the town hall’s lower level community room to the postal service.
“We’re still going to have a large community room there,” said Knox Supervisor Michael Hammond yesterday. “The partition would facilitate having a bank of post office boxes there, and people would have access out of the weather.”
The Knox post office, down the road from the town hall, was closed in November when work on its furnace revealed a leaking roof, extensive mold, and rodents.
A bank of post office boxes is being used in the East Berne post office for Knox residents. Hammond said it is a 14-mile roundtrip from the Knox hamlet.
“Berne has 100 more than ours [population], and they have two full-blown post offices,” said Hammond, noting the Knox population is about 2,800.
According to a listing by Empire Real Estate Management, the foreclosed, 1.5-acre property was reduced in price by $11,000 on Dec. 7 to $134,000. The storefront rent is approximately $690.
Hammond said he called the USPS to find out about the ownership of the property.
“The closing of the post office happened without any town official being notified,” he said.
The possible cost to the town or postal service has not been established, Hammond said, because the space is being offered as an option and costs would have to be negotiated.
Grace Mueller, a business service network manager for USPS, visited the community center.
“She came to the town hall and she knows exactly what we have to offer,” said Hammond. “She thinks it’s excellent.”
Still, no official determination has been made and Marion said the issues with either option need to be “identified and discussed.”
“Sometimes the most generous and appropriate offer isn’t going to fly for some very small reason,” said Marion. “Like, maybe we have a loading dock in the back of the community center but there isn’t enough room for the truck to turn around back into it.”
Marion did not specifically speak about the Knox resolution, but said such agreements with local governments have been made with USPS before.
In a new post office, certain standards about safety and logistics are required by the United States Postal Inspection Service, an enforcement branch of the USPS.
Among the considerations for a new office are the special care in moving a bank of post office boxes, having a loading dock, a floor that can sustain the weight of a heavy safe, and various safety standards covering aspects such as locks, lighting and windows.