Post office is looking for other temporary facilities

Thursday, September 9, 2004

The U.S. Postal Service will seek additional temporary space in Cape Girardeau to house its postal carrier operations while the future of the former post office building on Frederick Street remains uncertain.

Postal officials insist the roof and its support structures need to be fixed properly before the building can be used again as a post office.

Cape Girardeau postmaster Mike Keefe said Wednesday that the immediate goal is to move the mail carriers out of their temporary quarters at the agency's regional mail processing center at 475 Kell Farm Drive before the Christmas mail rush.

The mail carriers have operated out of the processing center on the city's west side since early January. The move was made because of a leaky roof at the longtime Frederick Street post office.

The postal service moved its retail operations to 5,000 square feet of leased commercial office space at 284 Christine St. on March 22 after postal officials expressed continued concern about the roof of the leased Frederick Street structure.

Keefe said at the time that the move was only temporary while the postal service weighed repair possibilities against permanent relocation.

Keefe said the postal service inspected the building on July 29 and found continued problems with the roof and the roof supports even after installation of a new roof earlier this year.

The postal service now will have to negotiate with building owner C. Allin Means of Durant, Okla., about further repair work, Keefe said.

Even if repairs are made to the old post office, Keefe said postal officials have indicated that they won't be moving back into the Frederick Street building until next June.

As for Means, he said he has yet to be notified by the postal service as to what repairs are needed.

Means said he had a new roof put on the 39-year-old building earlier this year because of leaks that had plagued the structure for about six months.

Means said the new tar-and-gravel roof solved the problem. "The building is dry. It is doing fine," he said.

Meanwhile, the postal service continues to make two lease payments -- one on the Frederick Street building and another on its temporary quarters on Christine Street.

As for finding additional temporary space, Keefe said the postal service could look at building space that would serve just the mail carriers or a structure large enough to also handle the retail operation now handled at the Christine Street location.

"There is no solid plan in place right now. Everything is being looked at," Keefe said. Any building decision rests with postal officials in Denver, he said.

Post office customers have complained about the parking situation at the Christine Street site.

The Frederick Street building began operations June 26, 1965. It was built by a private developer and leased to the post office. The postal service has been leasing the building under a 50-year agreement that expires in 2015.

Means bought the 18,000-square-foot building in 1992.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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