New Cape post office address unknown to some

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Postmaster Mike Keefe spent much of Tuesday answering telephone calls from area residents wanting directions to Cape Girardeau's new temporary post office.

Some customers weren't even aware the post office had moved until they showed up at the old Frederick Street location and read the small sign on the locked lobby door.

"What, did they move?" asked Jenny Goncher, who showed up at the 320 N. Frederick St. building to mail a package to her boyfriend. "I was just here last week."

After 38 years on Frederick Street, the post office moved into temporary quarters Monday in a commercial building at 284 Christine St.

The postal service mailed out postcards notifying customers of the temporary change of address. But some customers said they never saw the postcard.

"We have a sign ordered," said Keefe, who has been naming business landmarks to guide customers to the new location. "It's just not here yet."

The postal service decided to relocate from Frederick Street because of structural problems with the roof.

Keefe said the post office has a three-month lease on its temporary quarters. The postal service plans to bring in a structural engineer, possibly by the end of next week, to inspect the Frederick Street building to determine what repairs may be needed.

The Frederick Street building is owned by journalism professor C. Allin Means of Durant, Okla., who recently paid to have a leaky roof fixed on the structure.

Keefe said ultimately postal service officials in Denver will decide between repairing the building and permanently relocating the post office.

As for the temporary post office, it has two entrances. One houses post office boxes. The other is the retail center where customers can buy stamps and mail packages.

The postal service provided new keys for the 1,500 post office box customers to access their temporary boxes. Customers get to keep their old keys in case the old post office is repaired and reopened.

"If we don't move back, then they would have to turn their keys in," Keefe said.

Keefe said Monday was a "total zoo" as customers showed up to obtain new post office box keys and buy stamps. Some customers were waiting outside the temporary post office to buy stamps when it opened at 8 a.m.

The postal service originally had hoped to have an interior connecting door between the post office boxes and the retail service area. But Keefe said that would have required a city permit to make changes in a structural wall, a process that would have taken too long.

Keefe said the postal service had only a few weeks to do minor construction and turn the vacant commercial space into a post office.

The temporary location gets mixed reviews from customers, Keefe said.

Fred Trawick had no problem finding the Christine Street location, but negotiating the parking lot seems more challenging.

"I try to park out near the street," he said.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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