‘It’s important . . . what a central hub and location the post office has become’
A presentation by Richard Hancock, the U.S. Postal Service real estate specialist working on the potential relocation of the Washington post office, took up most of the Washington Town Council’s regular monthly meeting Monday (Jan. 8) at town hall.
Hancock, who had driven up from icy Raleigh, N.C. for the meeting, told the crowd of about 20 that his presentation was the start of a 30-day public comment period for the postal service to receive feedback from the locals and view possible sites, though no specific sites were mentioned.
“The second part of why I am here is to view potential locations,” he said. “I work for a lot of people, my job is to the be the conduit, a real estate point of contact for you all to my bosses. And understand I have a lot of them. What we’ll do is take the feedback, my management will make a determination of whether to afford this location, or potential locations analysis or site review, once we’ve done our due diligence for that site, and we are requesting a proposal.
“The RFP is for approximately 2,000 square feet, it is approximately 20 parking spaces. I will work with whomever is interested in giving us a proposal and guide them through the process. This is just the beginning, I don’t have a bunch of answers. I’m here as a fact-finding mission.”
After Hancock’s presentation, he took questions from the the council and audience — who expressed a variety of concerns from parking accessibility to the office remaining in town for local business, and to fit into the uniqueness of the town and county.
Hancock said the postal service intends to lease a pre-existing building.
In answer to a question about a time frame, Hancock said, “That’s a hard one with this scenario. I’m going to take a metaphorical step back and give you a broad sweep . . . about a year, from past projects.”
“I think the priority here for the post office is to fit into the unique charm of Rappahannock County, and particular the town of Little Washington,” said Harris Hollow resident Bill Walton. “I think the post office could make a real emotional impression on the community by choosing something that fits the characteristic of the county. I, for one, do not want to see it out on 211. I think that just gets us into suburban sprawl.”
Hampton District Supervisor John Lesinski said: “Please keep in mind the amount of economic activity that is generated for our shops and our restaurants and our town through residents, from my district, and the town, who come to the post office, sometimes on a daily basis . . . I just think it’s important . . . what a central hub and location the post office has become, clearly to the town, but also in the county area immediately surrounding it.”
“I will tell you,” Hancock said, “wherever we go, there’s going to be not happy people and happy people. I’ve got a couple hundred post offices that I’ve done for the past 11 years, one or two people might not be happy, one or two might be happy, but the key is to keep the post office, that’s the key.”
Hancock encouraged people to contact him with any questions, concerns or ideas, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Richard Hancock, USPS Facilities, PO Box 27497, Greensboro, NC 27498.
In other business the council unanimously appointed Caroline Anstey to the town’s planning commision to fill the seat vacated by council member Brad Schneider, who stepped down last month after Fred Catlin, also on the planning commission, joined the council.
Anstey’s extensive qualifications include a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and a 19-year career at the World Bank Group as chief of staff, country director for the Caribbean region, external affairs vice president and head of media and chief spokesperson. “We are very excited to have her,” said Catlin.