“They” say that news travels fast in small towns, but not in Little Washington, apparently, when it comes to the status of the Washington Post Office. Word has filtered down that the lease for the branch office, on Main Street adjacent to the Country Cafe, will not be renewed in 2015, but some big questions remain.
Who chose not to renew the lease?
The Inn at Little Washington owns the building that houses the Post Office branch. Rachel Hayden, director of public relations at The Inn, issued a statement Tuesday from Inn chef and owner Patrick O’Connell: “The Postal Service has chosen not to renew their lease. We were only recently provided this information and at this time have made no plans for the future use of the building. We certainly hope the post office will choose to remain in town.”
However, David P. Coleman, communications programs specialist with the U.S. Postal Service, said in an email later that day, “The Postal Service facilities department, which oversees this lease agreement, reports the lessor has chosen not to renew the lease, which expires on August 31, 2015.”
The lessor — the owner of the building? When told about Coleman’s remarks, Hayden said that The Inn stands by its statement.
Will the post office reopen in another location?
Coleman said, “Facility postal officials are in the preliminary stages of researching the relocation of postal operations in the community, and no further details are available at this time. They will work with local community leaders during this process.”
Postmistress Tina Brooks received word of the action directly from the Postal Service facilities operation, based in Colorado. “I don’t know any of the details about this,” said Brooks, “but I have been involved with branches moving before and it’s always been very smooth.”
David Huff, owner of the Country Cafe, next door, expressed his surprise and sadness that the branch would be closing. “The Post Office is so central to the county,” he said. “The location benefits residents and businesses.”
A new location, however, might have its own benefits, especially in terms of disability access. “This space presents some problems for people with handicaps,” said Brooks. “I don’t know where we might move,” said Brooks, “but I hope it will be more convenient for all of our customers.”